Co-infection with hepatitis C greatly increases the risk of
pre-term delivery for pregnant women with HIV, Polish researchers reported last
week at the International Congress on Drug Therapy in HIV Infection (HIV Glasgow 2018). Women with hepatitis C and HIV co-infection were at
least four times more likely to have a premature birth compared to women with
HIV alone, Karolina Nowicka of the Medical University of Warsaw reported.
Premature delivery is a major risk factor for poor infant
health and survival, especially in infants born prior to 28 weeks.
Chronic hepatitis C infection is a risk factor for pre-term
delivery and some studies have found that antiretroviral treatment increases
the risk of pre-term delivery.
Polish researchers looked at the outcomes of all pregnancies
in women receiving care at the HIV Out-Patient Clinic at Warsaw Hospital for
Infectious Diseases between 2006 and 2017 to identify the prevalence and risk
factors for pre-term birth (before 37 weeks).
One hundred and fifty-nine pregnancies were identified, of
which 19 resulted in pre-term delivery (11.9%). Mothers had a median age of 31
years and 27% had chronic infection with hepatitis C at the time of pregnancy.
Thirty-one per cent reported drug use during pregnancy and 13% were receiving
methadone as opioid substitution therapy.
Fifty-two per cent were taking antiretroviral treatment
prior to conception, the remainder started antiretroviral treatment during
pregnancy and just over 20% had a detectable viral load at the time of delivery.
The predominant form of treatment was a boosted protease inhibitor (89.9%) and
the most common nucleoside combinations used during pregnancy were tenofovir
plus lamivudine or emtricitabine (44.6%) or zidovudine and lamivudine (44%). Five
per cent received abacavir and lamivudine. Three women received dolutegravir
The median gestation period at the time of delivery in women
who delivered prematurely was 36 weeks (interquartile range 34-36), compared to
38 weeks in the normal delivery group (p < 0.001).
Although the risks associated with pre-term delivery are
much greater if a baby is born prior to 32 weeks, and especially if born prior
to 28 weeks, infants born between 32 and 37 weeks of pregnancy may suffer
complications such as low blood pressure, breathing difficulties, low blood
sugar and weakness in feeding. Babies born at this stage may need specialised
care to help them feed.
In a univariate analysis, pre-term birth was associated with
an NRTI backbone of abacavir/lamivudine, use of dolutegravir, hepatitis C
infection or drug use during pregnancy.
But after adjustment for demographic
factors, the only variable that was a significant predictor of pre-term birth
was chronic hepatitis C infection (adjusted odds ratio 4.31, 95% confidence
interval 1.32 -14.1, p = 0.016).
The investigators said that the small sample size means that
any association between dolutegravir and pre-term birth needs to be treated
with caution and investigated in larger datasets with prospective follow-up.