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No disease group is as vast and complex in scope as the noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). Incorporating social determinants such as income and education, the NCDs call for an equally massive and comprehensive response
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Anti-retroviral Therapy and Pregnancy Outcomes in Developing Countries: A Systematic Review

Fekadu Mazengia Alemu, MPH, Alemayehu Worku Yalew, PhD, Mesganaw Fantahun, PhD, Eta Ebasi Ashu, MSc


Background: Despite significant efforts to understand adverse pregnancy outcome in women receiving Antiretroviral Therapy (ART), ART-related adverse birth outcomes are still poorly understood. We systematically review ART-related adverse birth outcomes among HIV-infected pregnant women; we also review the covariates associated with adverse birth outcomes in the aforementioned group.

Methods: The main source for our systematic review was electronic bibliographic databases. Databases such as MEDLINE, PubMed, EMBASE and AIDSLINE were searched. Furthermore, search engines such as Google and Google Scholar were specifically searched for gray literature. Methodological quality of available literature was assessed using the Newcastle – Ottawa Quality Assessment Scale & M. Hewitt guideline. We examined a total of 1,124 papers and reviewed the studies using the PICOT criteria which stands for Patient (population), Intervention (or “Exposure”), Comparison, Outcome and Type of study. Finally, 32 methodologically fit studies were retained and included in our review.

Results: Frequently observed adverse birth outcomes included low birth weight (LBW), Preterm Birth (PB), Small for Gestational Age (SGA), while still birth and congenital anomalies were infrequent. Type of regimen such as Protease Inhibitor (PI) based regimens and timing of initiation of ART are some of the factors associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes. Covariates principally included malnutrition and other co-morbidities such as malaria and HIV.

Conclusions and Public Health Implications: There is growing evidence in published literature suggesting that ART might be causing adverse birth outcomes among pregnant women in developing countries. There is a need to consider regimen types for HIV-infected pregnant women. There is need to design large cohort studies.

Key words: Systematic review • Adverse pregnancy outcomes • Antiretroviral Therapy • HAART • Low birth weight • Preterm delivery • Developing countries

Copyright © 2015 Alemu et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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