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J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2001 Mar 1;26(3):236-45.

Mode of delivery and postpartum morbidity among HIV-infected women: the women and infants transmission study.

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  • 1Pediatric, Adolescent, and Maternal AIDS Branch, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Bethesda, Maryland 20892-7510, USA.


Cesarean delivery before onset of labor and rupture of membranes (i.e., scheduled cesarean delivery) is associated with a lower risk of vertical transmission of HIV. The following a priori hypotheses were tested: among HIV-infected women, scheduled cesarean delivery is associated with a higher risk of postpartum morbidity, longer hospitalization, and a higher risk of rehospitalization than spontaneous vaginal delivery. Postpartum morbidity occurred following 178 of 1,186 (15%) of deliveries during 1990 to 1998 in The Women and Infants Transmission Study. The most commonly reported postpartum morbidity events were: fever without infection, hemorrhage or severe anemia, endometritis, urinary tract infection, and cesarean wound complications. Several time trends were observed: the median duration of ruptured membranes decreased (p < .001), intrapartum antibiotic use increased (p < .001), the median antepartum plasma HIV RNA concentration decreased (p < .001), and the incidence of any postpartum morbidity decreased (p = .02). With spontaneous vaginal delivery as the reference category, both scheduled (odds ratio [OR] = 4.69; 95% confidence interval [95% CI], 2.03-10.84), and nonscheduled (OR, 2.50; 95% CI, 1.24-5.04) cesarean deliveries were associated with fever without infection; with urinary tract infection (OR, 3.79; 95% CI 1.04-13.85; OR, 3.86; 95% CI, 1.55-9.60, respectively), and with any postpartum morbidity (OR, 3.19; 95% CI 1.69-6.00; OR, 4.10; 95% CI, 2.71-6.19, respectively). Nonscheduled cesarean deliveries were more likely to be complicated by endometritis (OR, 6.98; 95% CI, 3.53-13.78). Adjusted ORs relating mode of delivery and each of the outcomes (fever without infection, urinary tract infection, endometritis, and any postpartum morbidity) were similar to unadjusted ORs. Results of this analysis indicate scheduled cesarean delivery is associated with an increased risk of any postpartum morbidity and, specifically, postpartum fever without infection. The potential for postpartum morbidity with scheduled cesarean delivery should be considered in light of possible adverse events associated with other interventions to decrease the risk of vertical transmission of HIV. Counseling of HIV-infected pregnant women regarding scheduled cesarean delivery as a possible intervention to decrease maternal-infant transmission of HIV should include discussion of these results, as well as new data as they become available, regarding the incidence and severity of postpartum morbidity events among HIV-infected women according to mode of delivery.

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