Follow-up care of infants born in a prevention of mother-to-child transmission programme in an urban hospital in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
Introduction. The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is the main contributor to rising child mortality in South Africa. Although prevention of mother-to-child transmission programmes have been implemented in the country, little is known about the clinical and loss to follow-up outcomes of infants born to HIV-infected women attending these programmes. Purpose. The purpose of the study was to describe the clinical and loss to follow-up outcomes of HIV-exposed infants whose mothers had received antiretroviral therapy or prophylaxis during their pregnancy at the Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission programme at McCord Hospital. Furthermore, maternal socio-demographic characteristics associated with these outcomes were determined. Methods. An observational retrospective cohort study design was used. The study population consisted of infants whose mothers had received antiretroviral prophylaxis or therapy at McCord Hospital, and were delivered at McCord Hospital, and/or were brought back to McCord Hospital, following delivery from 1 May 2008 to 31 May 2009. Results. Data on 265 infants was analysed. Of the 220 infants who were tested, the HIV transmission risk was 2.7% (n=6; 95% Cl: 1.0% to 5.8%) at 6 weeks of age. Overall, 40.4% of infants in the cohort were lost to follow-up (n=105, 95% Cl: 34.4 to 46.6). In the multivariable model (n=253), late booking for first antenatal visit at or after 28 weeks of gestation (adjusted hazard ratio (AHR) 2.3; 95% Cl: 1.0 to 5.1, p=0.044) was a risk factor for loss to follow-up. Compared to having an emergency caesarean section, having an elective caesarean section (AHR 1.9; 95% Cl: 1.1 to 3.5) or normal vaginal delivery (AHR 2.5; 95% Cl: 1.4 to 4.5) was significantly associated with loss to follow-up of infants. Discussion. The substantial attrition of infants born to HIV-infected mothers in the Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission programme at McCord Hospital undermined the goals of the programme, and underestimated the effect of infectious disease morbidity, mortality and HIV transmission risk associated with these infants. Recommendations. Counselling mothers on the health benefits to their HIV-exposed infants of attending the follow-up clinic and tracing of infants who have been lost to follow-up is vital to the operational effectiveness of the Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission programme at McCord Hospital.
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