HIV-infected pregnant women and vertical transmission in Europe since 1986

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To describe changes over a 15-year period in characteristics and management of HIV-infected pregnant women in Europe.


Prospective study.


Analysis of prospective data on 2876 pregnant HIV-infected women and their 3076 infants. Factors examined included maternal socio-demographic, immunological and virological characteristics, antiretroviral therapy and pregnancy outcome.


Among women enrolled, the proportion with heterosexual acquisition of infection has increased significantly from 59% (201/342) in 1985–1987 to 69% (327/471) after 1997 while the proportion acquiring HIV through injecting drug use has declined. Overall median CD4 cell count was 440 × 106/l and 41% of women had undetectable viral load at delivery. In 1995 28% (72/256) of mother–child pairs received the full 076 regimen to reduce risk of vertical transmission, rising significantly to 89% (116/130) by 1999. Use of triple therapy started in pregnancy has increased significantly from < 1% (1/153) in 1997 to 44% (47/107) in 1999. Exposure to antiretroviral therapy was not associated with prevalence or pattern of congenital abnormalities (P = 0.88) but was associated with reversible anaemia in the infant (P < 0.002). The elective cesarean section rate has increased from 10% in 1992 to 71% in 1999/2000. The vertical transmission rate declined from 15.5% by 1994 to 2.6% after 1998. In multivariate analysis, adjusting for maternal CD4 cell count, risk of vertical transmission was reduced by 66% (95% confidence interval, 37–82%) with the full 076 regimen and by 60% (95% confidence interval, 33–73%) with elective cesarean section delivery.


Changes in treatment of adult HIV disease have affected the management of infected pregnant women. Despite therapeutic and surgical interventions, vertical transmission still occurs.

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