The impact of pneumonia in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) infected pregnant women on perinatal and early infant mortality.
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Background: Although the prevalence of pneumonia in pregnancy is reported to be less than 1%, the pregnant state and risk factors associated with the development of pneumonia adversely influence the outcome of pregnancy. KwaZulu-Natal is at the epicenter of the dual epidemics of tuberculosis and HIV-1 and the impact of these diseases occurring concurrently in pregnant women at King Edward VIII hospital (KEH), South Africa have been described previously. The impact of antenatal pneumonia in HIV-1 infected and uninfected women however has not been described in the study population and was investigated. Methods: Pregnant women with clinical and radiological evidence of pneumonia were recruited from the antenatal clinic and labour ward at KEH. The study was conducted prospectively between January and December 2000. The clinical profile of these women and the causative organisms were determined. In addition the impact of HIV-1 infection, maternal immunosuppression and maternal pneumonia on obstetric and perinatal outcomes were evaluated. Mothers diagnosed with tuberculosis and multi drug resistant tuberculosis were hospitalised at King George V hospital until delivery. Results: Twenty nine women were diagnosed with antenatal pneumonia (study arm) with Mycobacterium tuberculosis the only causative organism isolated. A control arm of 112 pregnant women was also studied. Maternal and perinatal mortality was restricted to the study arm with a maternal mortality ratio of 99 per 100 000 live births and a perinatal mortality rate of 240 per 1000 births. Pneumonia was significantly associated with a negative overall obstetric outcome in the presence of HIV- l infection, antenatal care, anaemia and second trimester booking status. In addition, the presence of pneumonia was significantly associated with maternal mortality. There was a highly significant association between exposure to pneumonia and poor neonatal outcome. Maternal pneumonia, maternal HIV infection and the presence of medical and obstetric conditions were significantly associated with low birth weight and neonatal pneumonia. Further, maternal pneumonia (p <0.001) and concurrent HIV infection (p=0.002) was significantly associated with neonatal death. Conclusion: The presence of pneumonia in the antenatal period impacts negatively on maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality. Health care providers must maintain a high degree of suspicion when managing a pregnant woman with unresolving upper respiratory tract symptoms and refer timeously for further investigation. Pneumonia and in particular pulmonary tuberculosis associated with HIV co- infection in pregnancy is a threat to mother and baby. Therefore in areas endemic for TB and HIV infection, it may be prudent to screen HIV positive pregnant women for symptoms suggestive of pneumonia and thereby identify women requiring further investigations such as sputummicroscopy and cultures, and a screening chest radiograph.