Journal: PLoS Med

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Abstract

HIV prevention for the next decade: Appropriate, person-centred, prioritised, effective, combination prevention.

Godfrey-Faussett P, Frescura L, Abdool-Karim Q, Clayton M, Ghys PD, (on behalf of the 2025 prevention targets working group)
UNAIDS and a broad range of partners have collaborated to establish a new set of HIV prevention targets to be achieved by 2025 as an intermediate step towards the sustainable development target for 2030.The number of new HIV infections in the world continues to decline, in part due to the extraordinary expansion of effective HIV treatment. However, the decline is geographically heterogeneous, with some regions reporting a rise in incidence. The incidence target that was agreed for 2020 has been missed.A range of exciting new HIV prevention technologies have become available or are in the pipeline but will only have an impact if they are accessible and affordable and delivered within systems that take full account of the social and political context in which most infections occur. Most new infections occur in populations that are marginalised or discriminated against due to structural, legal, and cultural barriers.The new targets imply a new approach to HIV prevention that emphasises appropriate, person-centred, prioritised, effective, combination HIV prevention within a framework that reduces existing barriers to services and acknowledges heterogeneity, autonomy, and choice.These targets have consequences for people working in HIV programmes both for delivery and for monitoring and evaluation, for health planners setting local and national priorities, and for funders both domestic and global. Most importantly, they have consequences for people who are at risk of HIV exposure and infection.Achieving these targets will have a huge impact on the future of the HIV epidemic and put us back on track towards ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.



PLoS Med: 26 Sep 2022; 19:e1004102
Godfrey-Faussett P, Frescura L, Abdool-Karim Q, Clayton M, Ghys PD, (on behalf of the 2025 prevention targets working group)
PLoS Med: 26 Sep 2022; 19:e1004102 | PMID: 36156593
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Abstract

Exposure to wildfire-related PM2.5 and site-specific cancer mortality in Brazil from 2010 to 2016: A retrospective study.

Yu P, Xu R, Li S, Yue X, ... Abramson MJ, Guo Y
Background
Long-term exposure to fine particles ≤2.5 μm in diameter (PM2.5) has been linked to cancer mortality. However, the effect of wildfire-related PM2.5 exposure on cancer mortality risk is unknown. This study evaluates the association between wildfire-related PM2.5 and site-specific cancer mortality in Brazil, from 2010 to 2016.
Methods and findings
Nationwide cancer death records were collected during 2010-2016 from the Brazilian Mortality Information System. Death records were linked with municipal-level wildfire- and non-wildfire-related PM2.5 concentrations, at a resolution of 2.0° latitude by 2.5° longitude. We applied a variant difference-in-differences approach with quasi-Poisson regression, adjusting for seasonal temperature and gross domestic product (GDP) per capita. Relative risks (RRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for the exposure for specific cancer sites were estimated. Attributable fractions and cancer deaths were also calculated. In total, 1,332,526 adult cancer deaths (age ≥ 20 years), from 5,565 Brazilian municipalities, covering 136 million adults were included. The mean annual wildfire-related PM2.5 concentration was 2.38 μg/m3, and the annual non-wildfire-related PM2.5 concentration was 8.20 μg/m3. The RR for mortality from all cancers was 1.02 (95% CI 1.01-1.03, p < 0.001) per 1-μg/m3 increase of wildfire-related PM2.5 concentration, which was higher than the RR per 1-μg/m3 increase of non-wildfire-related PM2.5 (1.01 [95% CI 1.00-1.01], p = 0.007, with p for difference = 0.003). Wildfire-related PM2.5 was associated with mortality from cancers of the nasopharynx (1.10 [95% CI 1.04-1.16], p = 0.002), esophagus (1.05 [95% CI 1.01-1.08], p = 0.012), stomach (1.03 [95% CI 1.01-1.06], p = 0.017), colon/rectum (1.08 [95% CI 1.05-1.11], p < 0.001), larynx (1.06 [95% CI 1.02-1.11], p = 0.003), skin (1.06 [95% CI 1.00-1.12], p = 0.003), breast (1.04 [95% CI 1.01-1.06], p = 0.007), prostate (1.03 [95% CI 1.01-1.06], p = 0.019), and testis (1.10 [95% CI 1.03-1.17], p = 0.002). For all cancers combined, the attributable deaths were 37 per 100,000 population and ranged from 18/100,000 in the Northeast Region of Brazil to 71/100,000 in the Central-West Region. Study limitations included a potential lack of assessment of the joint effects of gaseous pollutants, an inability to capture the migration of residents, and an inability to adjust for some potential confounders.
Conclusions
Exposure to wildfire-related PM2.5 can increase the risks of cancer mortality for many cancer sites, and the effect for wildfire-related PM2.5 was higher than for PM2.5 from non-wildfire sources.



PLoS Med: 19 Sep 2022; 19:e1004103
Yu P, Xu R, Li S, Yue X, ... Abramson MJ, Guo Y
PLoS Med: 19 Sep 2022; 19:e1004103 | PMID: 36121854
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Abstract

Continued attendance in a PrEP program despite low adherence and non-protective drug levels among adolescent girls and young women in Kenya: Results from a prospective cohort study.

Tapsoba JD, Cover J, Obong\'o C, Brady M, ... Drain P, Duerr A
Background
In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) ages 15 to 24 years represent <10% of the population yet account for 1 in 5 new HIV infections. Although oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) with tenofovir disoproxil fumarate/emtricitabine (TDF/FTC) can be highly effective, low persistence in PrEP programs and poor adherence have limited its ability to reduce HIV incidence among women.
Methods and findings
A total of 336 AGYW participating in the PEPFAR-funded DREAMS PrEP program in western Kenya were enrolled into a study of PrEP use conducted between 6/2019 to 1/2020. AGYW, which used daily oral TDF/FTC, completed interviews and provided dried blood spots (DBS) for measurement of tenofovir-diphosphate (TFV-DP) concentrations at enrollment and 3 months later, and 176/302 (58.3%, 95% confidence interval [95% CI 52.3 to 63.8]) met our definition of PrEP persistence: having expressed intention to use PrEP and attended both the second interview and an interim refill visit. Among AGYW with DBS taken at the second interview, only 9/197 (4.6%, [95% CI 1.6 to 7.5]) had protective TFV-DP levels (≥700 fmol/punch) and 163/197 (82.7%, [95% CI 77.5 to 88]) had levels consistent with no recent PrEP use (<10 fmol/punch). Perception of being at moderate-to-high risk for HIV if not taking PrEP was associated with persistence (adjusted odds ratio, 10.17 [95% CI 5.14 to 20.13], p < 0.001) in a model accounting for county of residence and variables that had p-value <0.1 in unadjusted analysis (age, being in school, initiated PrEP 2 to 3 months before the first interview, still active in DREAMS, having children, having multiple sex partners, partner aware of PrEP use, partner very supportive of PrEP use, partner has other partners, AGYW believes that a partner puts her at risk, male condom use, injectable contraceptive use, and implant contraceptive use). Among AGYW who reported continuing PrEP, >90% indicated they were using PrEP to prevent HIV, although almost all had non-protective TFV-DP levels. Limitations included short study duration and inclusion of only DREAMS participants.
Conclusions
Many AGYW persisted in the PrEP program without taking PrEP frequently enough to receive benefit. Notably, AGYW who persisted had a higher self-perceived risk of HIV infection. These AGYW may be optimal candidates for long-acting PrEP.



PLoS Med: 12 Sep 2022; 19:e1004097
Tapsoba JD, Cover J, Obong'o C, Brady M, ... Drain P, Duerr A
PLoS Med: 12 Sep 2022; 19:e1004097 | PMID: 36095005
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Abstract

Structural factors associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection risk in an urban slum setting in Salvador, Brazil: A cross-sectional survey.

Fofana MO, Nery N, Aguilar Ticona JP, de Andrade Belitardo EMM, ... Costa F, Ko AI
Background
The structural environment of urban slums, including physical, demographic, and socioeconomic attributes, renders inhabitants more vulnerable to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection. Yet, little is known about the specific determinants that contribute to high transmission within these communities. We therefore aimed to investigate SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence in an urban slum in Brazil.
Methods and findings
We performed a cross-sectional serosurvey of an established cohort of 2,041 urban slum residents from the city of Salvador, Brazil between November 2020 and February 2021, following the first Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic wave in the country and during the onset of the second wave. The median age in this population was 29 years (interquartile range [IQR] 16 to 44); most participants reported their ethnicity as Black (51.5%) or Brown (41.7%), and 58.5% were female. The median size of participating households was 3 (IQR 2 to 4), with a median daily per capita income of 2.32 (IQR 0.33-5.15) US Dollars. The main outcome measure was presence of IgG against the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. We implemented multilevel models with random intercepts for each household to estimate seroprevalence and associated risk factors, adjusting for the sensitivity and specificity of the assay, and the age and gender distribution of our study population. We identified high seroprevalence (47.9%, 95% confidence interval [CI] 44.2% to 52.1%), particularly among female residents (50.3% [95% CI 46.3% to 54.8%] versus 44.6% [95% CI 40.1% to 49.4%] among male residents, p < 0.01) and among children (54.4% [95% CI 49.6% to 59.3%] versus 45.4% [95% CI 41.5% to 49.7%] among adults, p < 0.01). Adults residing in households with children were more likely to be seropositive (48.6% [95% CI 44.8% to 52.3%] versus 40.7% [95% CI 37.2% to 44.3%], p < 0.01). Women who were unemployed and living below the poverty threshold (daily per capita household income <$1.25) were more likely to be seropositive compared to men with the same employment and income status (53.9% [95% CI 47.0% to 60.6%] versus 32.9% [95% CI 23.2% to 44.3%], p < 0.01). Participation in the study was voluntary, which may limit the generalizability of our findings.
Conclusions
Prior to the peak of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, cumulative incidence as assessed by serology approached 50% in a Brazilian urban slum population. In contrast to observations from industrialized countries, SARS-CoV-2 incidence was highest among children, as well as women living in extreme poverty. These findings emphasize the need for targeted interventions that provide safe environments for children and mitigate the structural risks posed by crowding and poverty for the most vulnerable residents of urban slum communities.



PLoS Med: 08 Sep 2022; 19:e1004093
Fofana MO, Nery N, Aguilar Ticona JP, de Andrade Belitardo EMM, ... Costa F, Ko AI
PLoS Med: 08 Sep 2022; 19:e1004093 | PMID: 36074784
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Abstract

Associations between insomnia and pregnancy and perinatal outcomes: Evidence from mendelian randomization and multivariable regression analyses.

Yang Q, Borges MC, Sanderson E, Magnus MC, ... Tilling K, Lawlor DA
Background
Insomnia is common and associated with adverse pregnancy and perinatal outcomes in observational studies. However, those associations could be vulnerable to residual confounding or reverse causality. Our aim was to estimate the association of insomnia with stillbirth, miscarriage, gestational diabetes (GD), hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (HDP), perinatal depression, preterm birth (PTB), and low/high offspring birthweight (LBW/HBW).
Methods and findings
We used 2-sample mendelian randomization (MR) with 81 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) instrumenting for a lifelong predisposition to insomnia. Our outcomes included ever experiencing stillbirth, ever experiencing miscarriage, GD, HDP, perinatal depression, PTB (gestational age <37 completed weeks), LBW (<2,500 grams), and HBW (>4,500 grams). We used data from women of European descent (N = 356,069, mean ages at delivery 25.5 to 30.0 years) from UK Biobank (UKB), FinnGen, Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), Born in Bradford (BiB), and the Norwegian Mother, Father and Child Cohort (MoBa). Main MR analyses used inverse variance weighting (IVW), with weighted median and MR-Egger as sensitivity analyses. We compared MR estimates with multivariable regression of insomnia in pregnancy on outcomes in ALSPAC (N = 11,745). IVW showed evidence of an association of genetic susceptibility to insomnia with miscarriage (odds ratio (OR): 1.60, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.18, 2.17, p = 0.002), perinatal depression (OR 3.56, 95% CI: 1.49, 8.54, p = 0.004), and LBW (OR 3.17, 95% CI: 1.69, 5.96, p < 0.001). IVW results did not support associations of insomnia with stillbirth, GD, HDP, PTB, and HBW, with wide CIs including the null. Associations of genetic susceptibility to insomnia with miscarriage, perinatal depression, and LBW were not observed in weighted median or MR-Egger analyses. Results from these sensitivity analyses were directionally consistent with IVW results for all outcomes, with the exception of GD, perinatal depression, and PTB in MR-Egger. Multivariable regression showed associations of insomnia at 18 weeks of gestation with perinatal depression (OR 2.96, 95% CI: 2.42, 3.63, p < 0.001), but not with LBW (OR 0.92, 95% CI: 0.69, 1.24, p = 0.60). Multivariable regression with miscarriage and stillbirth was not possible due to small numbers in index pregnancies. Key limitations are potential horizontal pleiotropy (particularly for perinatal depression) and low statistical power in MR, and residual confounding in multivariable regression.
Conclusions
In this study, we observed some evidence in support of a possible causal relationship between genetically predicted insomnia and miscarriage, perinatal depression, and LBW. Our study also found observational evidence in support of an association between insomnia in pregnancy and perinatal depression, with no clear multivariable evidence of an association with LBW. Our findings highlight the importance of healthy sleep in women of reproductive age, though replication in larger studies, including with genetic instruments specific to insomnia in pregnancy are important.



PLoS Med: 06 Sep 2022; 19:e1004090
Yang Q, Borges MC, Sanderson E, Magnus MC, ... Tilling K, Lawlor DA
PLoS Med: 06 Sep 2022; 19:e1004090 | PMID: 36067251
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Abstract

Tighter or less tight glycaemic targets for women with gestational diabetes mellitus for reducing maternal and perinatal morbidity: A stepped-wedge, cluster-randomised trial.

Crowther CA, Samuel D, Hughes R, Tran T, ... Alsweiler JM, TARGET Study Group
Background
Treatment for gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) aims to reduce maternal hyperglycaemia. The TARGET Trial assessed whether tighter compared with less tight glycaemic control reduced maternal and perinatal morbidity.
Methods and findings
In this stepped-wedge, cluster-randomised trial, identification number ACTRN12615000282583, 10 hospitals in New Zealand were randomised to 1 of 5 implementation dates. The trial was registered before the first participant was enrolled. All hospitals initially used less tight targets (fasting plasma glucose (FPG) <5.5 mmol/L (<99 mg/dL), 1-hour <8.0 mmol/L (<144 mg/dL), 2 hour postprandial <7.0 mmol/L (<126 mg/dL)) and every 4 months, 2 hospitals moved to use tighter targets (FPG ≤5.0 mmol/L (≤90 mg/dL), 1-hour ≤7.4 mmol/L (≤133 mg/dL), 2 hour postprandial ≤6.7 mmol/L) (≤121 mg/dL). Women with GDM, blinded to the targets in use, were eligible. The primary outcome was large for gestational age. Secondary outcomes assessed maternal and infant health. Analyses were by intention to treat. Between May 2015 and November 2017, data were collected from 1,100 women with GDM (1,108 infants); 598 women (602 infants) used the tighter targets and 502 women (506 infants) used the less tight targets. The rate of large for gestational age was similar between the treatment target groups (88/599, 14.7% versus 76/502, 15.1%; adjusted relative risk [adjRR] 0.96, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.66 to 1.40, P = 0.839). The composite serious health outcome for the infant of perinatal death, birth trauma, or shoulder dystocia was apparently reduced in the tighter group when adjusted for gestational age at diagnosis of GDM, BMI, ethnicity, and history of GDM compared with the less tight group (8/599, 1.3% versus 13/505, 2.6%, adjRR 0.23, 95% CI 0.06 to 0.88, P = 0.032). No differences were seen for the other infant secondary outcomes apart from a shorter stay in intensive care (P = 0.041). Secondary outcomes for the woman showed an apparent increase for the composite serious health outcome that included major haemorrhage, coagulopathy, embolism, and obstetric complications in the tighter group (35/595, 5.9% versus 15/501, 3.0%, adjRR 2.29, 95% CI 1.14 to 4.59, P = 0.020). There were no differences between the target groups in the risk for pre-eclampsia, induction of labour, or cesarean birth, but more women using tighter targets required pharmacological treatment (404/595, 67.9% versus 293/501, 58.5%, adjRR 1.20, 95% CI 1.00 to 1.44, P = 0.047). The main study limitation is that the treatment targets used may vary to those in use in some countries.
Conclusions
Tighter glycaemic targets in women with GDM compared to less tight targets did not reduce the risk of a large for gestational age infant, but did reduce serious infant morbidity, although serious maternal morbidity was increased. These findings can be used to aid decisions on the glycaemic targets women with GDM should use.
Trial registration
The Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ANZCTR). ACTRN12615000282583.



PLoS Med: 01 Sep 2022; 19:e1004087
Crowther CA, Samuel D, Hughes R, Tran T, ... Alsweiler JM, TARGET Study Group
PLoS Med: 01 Sep 2022; 19:e1004087 | PMID: 36074760
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Abstract

Association of injury after prescription opioid initiation with risk for opioid-related adverse events among older Medicare beneficiaries in the United States: A nested case-control study.

Wei YJ, Chen C, Cheng TD, Schmidt SO, Fillingim RB, Winterstein AG
Background
Injury, prevalent and potentially associated with prescription opioid use among older adults, has been implicated as a warning sign of serious opioid-related adverse events (ORAEs) including opioid misuse, dependence, and poisoning, but this association has not been empirically tested. The study aims to examine the association between incident injury after prescription opioid initiation and subsequent risk of ORAEs and to assess whether the association differs by recency of injury among older patients.
Methods and findings
This nested case-control study was conducted within a cohort of 126,752 individuals aged 65 years or older selected from a 5% sample of Medicare beneficiaries in the United States between 2011 and 2018. Cohort participants were newly prescribed opioid users with chronic noncancer pain who had no injury or ORAEs in the year before opioid initiation, had 30 days or more of observation, and had at least 1 additional opioid prescription dispensed during follow-up. We identified ORAE cases as patients who had an inpatient or outpatient encounter with diagnosis codes for opioid misuse, dependence, or poisoning. During a mean follow-up of 1.8 years, we identified 2,734 patients who were newly diagnosed with ORAEs and 10,936 controls matched on the year of cohort entry date and a disease risk score (DRS), a summary score derived from the probability of an ORAE outcome based on covariates measured prior to cohort entry and in the absence of injury. Multivariate conditional logistic regression was used to estimate ORAE risk associated with any and recency of injury, defined based on the primary diagnosis code of inpatient and outpatient encounters. Among the cases and controls, 68.0% (n = 1,859 for cases and n = 7,436 for controls) were women and the mean (SD) age was 74.5 (6.9) years. Overall, 54.0% (n = 1,475) of cases and 46.0% (n = 1,259) of controls experienced incident injury after opioid initiation. Patients with (versus without) injury after opioid therapy had higher risk of ORAEs after adjustment for time-varying confounders, including diagnosis of tobacco or alcohol use disorder, drug use disorder, chronic pain diagnosis, mental health disorder, pain-related comorbidities, frailty index, emergency department visit, skilled nursing facility stay, anticonvulsant use, and patterns of prescription opioid use (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 1.4; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.2 to 1.5; P < 0.001). Increased risk of ORAEs was associated with current (≤30 days) injury (aOR = 2.8; 95% CI 2.3 to 3.4; P < 0.001), whereas risk of ORAEs was not significantly associated with recent (31 to 90 days; aOR = 0.93; 95% CI 0.73 to 1.17; P = 0.48), past (91 to 180 days; aOR = 1.08; 95% CI 0.88 to 1.33; P = 0.51), and remote (181 to 365 days; aOR = 0.88; 95% CI 0.73 to 1.1; P = 0.18) injury preceding the incident diagnosis of ORAE or matched date. Patients with injury and prescription opioid use versus those with neither in the month before the ORAE or matched date were at greater risk of ORAEs (aOR = 5.0; 95% CI 4.1 to 6.1; P < 0.001). Major limitations are that the study findings can only be generalized to older Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries and that unknown or unmeasured confounders have the potential to bias the observed association toward or away from the null.
Conclusions
In this study, we observed that incident diagnosis of injury following opioid initiation was associated with subsequent increased risk of ORAEs, and the risk was only significant among patients with injury in the month before the index date. Regular monitoring for injury may help identify older opioid users at high risk for ORAEs.



PLoS Med: 01 Sep 2022; 19:e1004101
Wei YJ, Chen C, Cheng TD, Schmidt SO, Fillingim RB, Winterstein AG
PLoS Med: 01 Sep 2022; 19:e1004101 | PMID: 36136971
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Abstract

Hospital-treated infections in early- and mid-life and risk of Alzheimer\'s disease, Parkinson\'s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: A nationwide nested case-control study in Sweden.

Sun J, Ludvigsson JF, Ingre C, Piehl F, ... Ye W, Fang F
Background
Experimental observations have suggested a role of infection in the etiology of neurodegenerative disease. In human studies, however, it is difficult to disentangle whether infection is a risk factor or rather a comorbidity or secondary event of neurodegenerative disease. To this end, we examined the risk of 3 most common neurodegenerative diseases in relation to previous inpatient or outpatient episodes of hospital-treated infections.
Methods and findings
We performed a nested case-control study based on several national registers in Sweden. Cases were individuals newly diagnosed with Alzheimer\'s disease (AD), Parkinson\'s disease (PD), or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) during 1970 to 2016 in Sweden, identified from the National Patient Register. For each case, 5 controls individually matched to the case on sex and year of birth were randomly selected from the general population. Conditional logistic regression was used to estimate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) with adjustment for potential confounders, including sex, year of birth, area of residence, educational attainment, family history of neurodegenerative disease, and Charlson comorbidity index. Infections experienced within 5 years before diagnosis of neurodegenerative disease were excluded to reduce the influence of surveillance bias and reverse causation. The analysis included 291,941 AD cases (median age at diagnosis: 76.2 years; male: 46.6%), 103,919 PD cases (74.3; 55.1%), and 10,161 ALS cases (69.3; 56.8%). A hospital-treated infection 5 or more years earlier was associated with an increased risk of AD (OR = 1.16, 95% CI: 1.15 to 1.18, P < 0.001) and PD (OR = 1.04, 95% CI: 1.02 to 1.06, P < 0.001). Similar results were observed for bacterial, viral, and other infections and among different sites of infection including gastrointestinal and genitourinary infections. Multiple infections before age 40 conveyed the greatest risk of AD (OR = 2.62, 95% CI: 2.52 to 2.72, P < 0.001) and PD (OR = 1.41, 95% CI: 1.29 to 1.53, P < 0.001). The associations were primarily due to AD and PD diagnosed before 60 years (OR = 1.93, 95% CI: 1.89 to 1.98 for AD, P < 0.001; OR = 1.29, 95% CI: 1.22 to 1.36 for PD, P < 0.001), whereas no association was found for those diagnosed at 60 years or older (OR = 1.00, 95% CI: 0.98 to 1.01 for AD, P = 0.508; OR = 1.01, 95% CI: 0.99 to 1.03 for PD, P = 0.382). No association was observed for ALS (OR = 0.97, 95% CI: 0.92 to 1.03, P = 0.384), regardless of age at diagnosis. Excluding infections experienced within 10 years before diagnosis of neurodegenerative disease confirmed these findings. Study limitations include the potential misclassification of hospital-treated infections and neurodegenerative diseases due to incomplete coverage of the National Patient Register, as well as the residual confounding from unmeasured risk or protective factors for neurodegenerative diseases.
Conclusions
Hospital-treated infections, especially in early- and mid-life, were associated with an increased risk of AD and PD, primarily among AD and PD cases diagnosed before 60 years. These findings suggest that infectious events may be a trigger or amplifier of a preexisting disease process, leading to clinical onset of neurodegenerative disease at a relatively early age. However, due to the observational nature of the study, these results do not formally prove a causal link.



PLoS Med: 01 Sep 2022; 19:e1004092
Sun J, Ludvigsson JF, Ingre C, Piehl F, ... Ye W, Fang F
PLoS Med: 01 Sep 2022; 19:e1004092 | PMID: 36107840
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Abstract

Weight loss strategies, weight change, and type 2 diabetes in US health professionals: A cohort study.

Si K, Hu Y, Wang M, Apovian CM, Chavarro JE, Sun Q
Background
Weight loss is crucial for disease prevention among individuals with overweight or obesity. This study aimed to examine associations of weight loss strategies (WLSs) with weight change and type 2 diabetes (T2D) risk among US health professionals.
Methods and findings
This study included 93,110 participants (24 to 60 years old; 11.6% male) from the Nurses\' Health Study (NHS), NHSII, and Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (HPFS) cohorts who were free of T2D, cardiovascular disease, and cancer at baseline (1988 for NHS/HPFS and 1989 for NHSII) for analyses of weight change and 104,180 (24 to 78 years old; 14.2% male) for T2D risk assessment. WLSs used to achieve an intentional weight loss of 4.5+ kg were collected in 1992 (NHS/HPFS)/1993 (NHSII) and grouped into 7 mutually exclusive categories, including low-calorie diet, exercise, low-calorie diet and exercise, fasting, commercial weight loss program (CWLP), diet pills, and FCP (selected at least 2 methods from fasting, CWLP, and pill). The reference group was participants who did not attempt to lose weight. Generalized estimating equations and Cox regression were applied to estimate up to 10-year weight change trajectory and incident T2D risk through 2016 (NHS/HPFS)/2017 (NHSII), respectively. The associations of WLSs with weight change and T2D risk were differential by baseline body weight (Pinteraction < 0.01). Among individuals with obesity, all WLSs tended to associate with less weight gain [ranging from -4.2% (95% confidence interval (CI), -5.1% to -3.2%; P < 0.001) for exercise to -0.3% (-1.2% to 0.7%; P > 0.99) for FCP] and a lower T2D risk [hazard ratios (HRs) ranging from 0.79 (0.66 to 0.95; P = 0.04) for exercise to 0.87 (0.66 to 1.13; P = 0.30) for pill]. Such a pattern was less clear among overweight individuals: the difference of weight change varied from -2.5% (-3.0% to -2.1%; P < 0.001) for exercise to 2.0% (1.3% to 2.7%; P < 0.001) for FCP, and HRs of T2D varied from 0.91 (0.77 to 1.07; P = 0.29) for exercise to 1.42 (1.11 to 1.81; P = 0.02) for pill. The pattern was further inverted among lean individuals in that weight change ranged from -0.4% (-0.6% to -0.1%; P = 0.02) for exercise to 3.7% (3.1% to 4.3%; P < 0.001) for FCP, and the HRs of T2D ranged from 1.09 (0.91 to 1.30; P = 0.33) for exercise to 1.54 (1.13 to 2.10; P = 0.008) for pill. Approximately 15.6% to 46.8% of the association between WLSs and the T2D risk was attributed to weight changes. This study was limited by a single assessment of WLSs, heterogeneity within each WLS, and potential misclassification of the timing of weight loss and weight regain.
Conclusions
The current study showed that individuals with obesity who attempted to lose weight, regardless of the WLSs used, tended to gain less body weight and have a lower diabetes risk. In contrast, lean individuals who intentionally lost weight tended to gain more weight and have a higher diabetes risk. These data support the notion that intentional weight loss may not be beneficial for lean individuals and the use of WLSs for achieving weight loss shall be guided by medical indications only.



PLoS Med: 01 Sep 2022; 19:e1004094
Si K, Hu Y, Wang M, Apovian CM, Chavarro JE, Sun Q
PLoS Med: 01 Sep 2022; 19:e1004094 | PMID: 36166473
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Abstract

Clinical and programmatic outcomes of HIV-exposed infants enrolled in care at geographically diverse clinics, 1997-2021: A cohort study.

Edmonds A, Brazier E, Musick BS, Yotebieng M, ... Wools-Kaloustian KK, IeDEA
Background
Although 1·3 million women with HIV give birth annually, care and outcomes for HIV-exposed infants remain incompletely understood. We analyzed programmatic and health indicators in a large, multidecade global dataset of linked mother-infant records from clinics and programs associated with the International epidemiology Databases to Evaluate AIDS (IeDEA) consortium.
Methods and findings
HIV-exposed infants were eligible for this retrospective cohort analysis if enrolled at <18 months at 198 clinics in 10 countries across 5 IeDEA regions: East Africa (EA), Central Africa (CA), West Africa (WA), Southern Africa (SA), and the Caribbean, Central, and South America network (CCASAnet). We estimated cumulative incidences of DNA PCR testing, loss to follow-up (LTFU), HIV diagnosis, and death through 24 months of age using proportional subdistribution hazard models accounting for competing risks. Competing risks were transfer, care withdrawal, and confirmation of negative HIV status, along with LTFU and death, when not the outcome of interest. In CA and EA, we quantified associations between maternal/infant characteristics and each outcome. A total of 82,067 infants (47,300 EA, 10,699 CA, 6,503 WA, 15,770 SA, 1,795 CCASAnet) born from 1997 to 2021 were included. Maternal antiretroviral therapy (ART) use during pregnancy ranged from 65·6% (CCASAnet) to 89·5% (EA), with improvements in all regions over time. Twenty-four-month cumulative incidences varied widely across regions, ranging from 12·3% (95% confidence limit [CL], 11·2%,13·5%) in WA to 94·8% (95% CL, 94·6%,95·1%) in EA for DNA PCR testing; 56·2% (95% CL, 55·2%,57·1%) in EA to 98·5% (95% CL, 98·3%,98·7%) in WA for LTFU; 1·9% (95% CL, 1·6%,2·3%) in WA to 10·3% (95% CL, 9·7%,10·9%) in EA for HIV diagnosis; and 0·5% (95% CL, 0·2%,1·0%) in CCASAnet to 4·7% (95% CL, 4·4%,5·0%) in EA for death. Although infant retention did not improve, HIV diagnosis and death decreased over time, and in EA, the cumulative incidence of HIV diagnosis decreased substantially, declining to 2·9% (95% CL, 1·5%,5·4%) in 2020. Maternal ART was associated with decreased infant mortality (subdistribution hazard ratio [sdHR], 0·65; 95% CL, 0·47,0·91 in EA, and sdHR, 0·51; 95% CL, 0·36,0·74 in CA) and HIV diagnosis (sdHR, 0·40; 95% CL, 0·31,0·50 in EA, and sdHR, 0·41; 95% CL, 0·31,0·54 in CA). Study limitations include potential misclassification of outcomes in real-world service delivery data and possible nonrepresentativeness of IeDEA sites and the population of HIV-exposed infants they serve.
Conclusions
While there was marked regional and temporal heterogeneity in clinical and programmatic outcomes, infant LTFU was high across all regions and time periods. Further efforts are needed to keep HIV-exposed infants in care to receive essential services to reduce HIV infection and mortality.



PLoS Med: 01 Sep 2022; 19:e1004089
Edmonds A, Brazier E, Musick BS, Yotebieng M, ... Wools-Kaloustian KK, IeDEA
PLoS Med: 01 Sep 2022; 19:e1004089 | PMID: 36107857
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Abstract

Burden of malaria in pregnancy among adolescent girls compared to adult women in 5 sub-Saharan African countries: A secondary individual participant data meta-analysis of 2 clinical trials.

Pons-Duran C, Mombo-Ngoma G, Macete E, Desai M, ... Menéndez C, González R
Background
Malaria is among the top causes of death in adolescent girls (10 to 19 years) globally. Adolescent motherhood is associated with increased risk of adverse maternal and neonatal outcomes. The interaction of malaria, adolescence, and pregnancy is especially relevant in malaria endemic areas, where rates of adolescent pregnancy are high. However, data on burden of malaria among adolescent girls are limited. This study aimed at investigating whether adolescent girls were at a greater risk of experiencing malaria-related outcomes in pregnancy-parasitaemia and clinical disease-than adult women.
Methods and findings
An individual secondary participant-level meta-analysis was conducted using data from 5,804 pregnant women participating in 2 malaria prevention clinical trials in Benin, Gabon, Kenya, Mozambique, and Tanzania between 2009 and 2014. Of the sample, 1,201 participants were adolescent girls with a mean age of 17.5 years (standard deviation (SD) 1.3) and 886 (73.8%) of them primigravidae. Among the 4,603 adult women with mean age of 27.0 years (SD 5.4), 595 (12.9%) were primigravidae. Mean gestational age at enrolment was 20.2 weeks (SD 5.2) and 1,069 (18.4%) participants were HIV-infected. Women were followed monthly until the postpartum visit (1 month to 6 weeks after delivery). This study considered outcomes including clinical episodes during pregnancy, peripheral parasitaemia at delivery, and placental malaria. A 2-stage meta-analysis approach was followed by pooling single multivariable regression results into standard DerSimonian-Laird random-effects models. Adolescent girls were more likely than adult women to present with clinical malaria during pregnancy (incidence risk ratio (IRR) 1.70, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.20; 2.39, p-value = 0.003, I2 = 0.0%, N = 4,092), peripheral parasitaemia at delivery (odds ratio (OR) 2.28, 95% CI 1.46; 3.55, p-value < 0.001, I2 = 0.0%, N = 3,977), and placental infection (OR 1.97, 95% CI 1.31; 2.98, p-value = 0.001, I2 = 1.4%, N = 4,797). Similar associations were observed among the subgroup of HIV-uninfected participants: IRR 1.72 (95% CI 1.22; 2.45, p-value = 0.002, I2 = 0.0%, N = 3,531) for clinical malaria episodes, OR 2.39 (95% CI 1.49; 3.86, p-value < 0.001, I2 = 0.0%, N = 3,053) for peripheral parasitaemia, and OR 1.88 (95% CI 1.06 to 3.33, p-value = 0.03, I2 = 34.9%, N = 3,847) for placental malaria. Among HIV-infected subgroups statistically significant associations were not observed. Similar associations were found in the subgroup analysis by gravidity. The small sample size and outcome prevalence in specific countries limited the inclusion of some countries in the meta-analysis. Furthermore, peripheral parasitaemia and placental malaria presented a considerable level of missing data-12.6% and 18.2% of participants had missing data on those outcomes, respectively. Given the original scope of the clinical trials, asymptomatic malaria infection was only assessed at the end of pregnancy through peripheral and placental parasitaemia.
Conclusions
In this study, we observed that adolescent girls in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) are more prone to experience clinical malaria episodes during pregnancy and have peripheral malaria and placental infection at delivery than adult women. Moreover, to the best of our knowledge, for the first time this study disaggregates figures and stratifies analyses by HIV infection. Similar associations were found for both HIV-infected and uninfected women, although those for HIV-infected participants were not statistically significant. Our finding suggests that adolescent girls may benefit from targeted malaria prevention strategies even before they become pregnant.



PLoS Med: 01 Sep 2022; 19:e1004084
Pons-Duran C, Mombo-Ngoma G, Macete E, Desai M, ... Menéndez C, González R
PLoS Med: 01 Sep 2022; 19:e1004084 | PMID: 36054101
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Abstract

Childhood body mass index trajectories and associations with adult-onset chronic kidney disease in Denmark: A population-based cohort study.

Aarestrup J, Blond K, Vistisen D, Jørgensen ME, ... Jensen BW, Baker JL
Background
Although excess adult adiposity is a strong risk factor for chronic kidney disease (CKD), evidence for associations with early life body size is limited. We investigated whether childhood body mass index (BMI) trajectories are associated with adult-onset CKD and end-stage kidney disease (ESKD) using a population-based cohort. Further, we examined the role of adult-onset type 2 diabetes (T2D) in these associations.
Methods and findings
We included 151,506 boys and 148,590 girls from the Copenhagen School Health Records Register, born 1930 to 1987 with information on measured weights and heights at ages 6 to 15 years. Five sex-specific childhood BMI trajectories were analyzed. Information on the main outcomes CKD and ESKD, as well as T2D, came from national health registers. Incidence rate ratios (IRRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated using Poisson regression adjusted for year of birth. During a median of 30.8 person-years of follow-up, 5,968 men and 3,903 women developed CKD and 977 men and 543 women developed ESKD. For both sexes, the rates of CKD and ESKD increased significantly with higher child BMI trajectories in comparison with the average BMI trajectory (40% to 43% of individuals) and the below-average BMI trajectory (21% to 23% of individuals) had the lowest rates. When including T2D, most associations were significant and men (IRR = 1.39, 95% CI: 1.13 to 1.72) and women (IRR = 1.54, 95% CI: 1.28 to 1.86) with the obese childhood BMI trajectory (2% of individuals) had significantly higher CKD rates than the average BMI trajectory, whereas for ESKD, the associations were positive, but nonsignificant, for men (IRR = 1.38, 95% CI: 0.83 to 2.31) but significant for women (IRR = 1.97, 95% CI: 1.25 to 3.11) with the obese BMI trajectory. A main study limitation is the use of only hospital-based CKD diagnoses.
Conclusions
Individuals with childhood BMI trajectories above average had higher rates of CKD and ESKD than those with an average childhood BMI trajectory. When including T2D, most associations were significant, particularly with CKD, emphasizing the potential information that the early appearance of above-average BMI growth patterns provide in relation to adult-onset CKD beyond the information provided by T2D development.



PLoS Med: 01 Sep 2022; 19:e1004098
Aarestrup J, Blond K, Vistisen D, Jørgensen ME, ... Jensen BW, Baker JL
PLoS Med: 01 Sep 2022; 19:e1004098 | PMID: 36129893
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Abstract

Cancer in children born after frozen-thawed embryo transfer: A cohort study.

Sargisian N, Lannering B, Petzold M, Opdahl S, ... Bergh C, Wennerholm UB
Background
The aim was to investigate whether children born after assisted reproduction technology (ART), particularly after frozen-thawed embryo transfer (FET), are at higher risk of childhood cancer than children born after fresh embryo transfer and spontaneous conception.
Methods and findings
We performed a registry-based cohort study using data from the 4 Nordic countries: Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden. The study included 7,944,248 children, out of whom 171,774 children were born after use of ART (2.2%) and 7,772,474 children were born after spontaneous conception, representing all children born between the years 1994 to 2014 in Denmark, 1990 to 2014 in Finland, 1984 to 2015 in Norway, and 1985 to 2015 in Sweden. Rates for any cancer and specific cancer groups in children born after each conception method were determined by cross-linking national ART registry data with national cancer and health data registries and population registries. We used Cox proportional hazards models to estimate the risk of any cancer, with age as the time scale. After a mean follow-up of 9.9 and 12.5 years, the incidence rate (IR) of cancer before age 18 years was 19.3/100,000 person-years for children born after ART (329 cases) and 16.7/100,000 person-years for children born after spontaneous conception (16,184 cases). Adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) was 1.08, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.96 to 1.21, p = 0.18. Adjustment was performed for sex, plurality, year of birth, country of birth, maternal age at birth, and parity. Children born after FET had a higher risk of cancer (48 cases; IR 30.1/100,000 person-years) compared to both fresh embryo transfer (IR 18.8/100,000 person-years), aHR 1.59, 95% CI 1.15 to 2.20, p = 0.005, and spontaneous conception, aHR 1.65, 95% CI 1.24 to 2.19, p = 0.001. Adjustment either for macrosomia, birth weight, or major birth defects attenuated the association marginally. Higher risks of epithelial tumors and melanoma after any assisted reproductive method and of leukemia after FET were observed. The main limitation of this study is the small number of children with cancer in the FET group.
Conclusions
Children born after FET had a higher risk of childhood cancer than children born after fresh embryo transfer and spontaneous conception. The results should be interpreted cautiously based on the small number of children with cancer, but the findings raise concerns considering the increasing use of FET, in particular freeze-all strategies without clear medical indications.
Trial registration
Trial registration number: ISRCTN 11780826.



PLoS Med: 01 Sep 2022; 19:e1004078
Sargisian N, Lannering B, Petzold M, Opdahl S, ... Bergh C, Wennerholm UB
PLoS Med: 01 Sep 2022; 19:e1004078 | PMID: 36048761
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Abstract

Vaccine effectiveness against SARS-CoV-2 infection or COVID-19 hospitalization with the Alpha, Delta, or Omicron SARS-CoV-2 variant: A nationwide Danish cohort study.

Gram MA, Emborg HD, Schelde AB, Friis NU, ... Valentiner-Branth P, Hansen CH
Background
The continued occurrence of more contagious Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) variants and waning immunity over time require ongoing reevaluation of the vaccine effectiveness (VE). This study aimed to estimate the effectiveness in 2 age groups (12 to 59 and 60 years or above) of 2 or 3 vaccine doses (BNT162b2 mRNA or mRNA-1273) by time since vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 infection and Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) hospitalization in an Alpha-, Delta-, or Omicron-dominated period.
Methods and findings
A Danish nationwide cohort study design was used to estimate VE against SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 hospitalization with the Alpha, Delta, or Omicron variant. Information was obtained from nationwide registries and linked using a unique personal identification number. The study included all previously uninfected residents in Denmark aged 12 years or above (18 years or above for the analysis of 3 doses) in the Alpha (February 20 to June 15, 2021), Delta (July 4 to November 20, 2021), and Omicron (December 21, 2021 to January 31, 2022) dominated periods. VE estimates including 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated (1-hazard ratio∙100) using Cox proportional hazard regression models with underlying calendar time and adjustments for age, sex, comorbidity, and geographical region. Vaccination status was included as a time-varying exposure. In the oldest age group, VE against infection after 2 doses was 90.7% (95% CI: 88.2; 92.7) for the Alpha variant, 82.3% (95% CI: 75.5; 87.2) for the Delta variant, and 39.9% (95% CI: 26.3; 50.9) for the Omicron variant 14 to 30 days since vaccination. The VE waned over time and was 73.2% (Alpha, 95% CI: 57.1; 83.3), 50.0% (Delta, 95% CI: 46.7; 53.0), and 4.4% (Omicron, 95% CI: -0.1; 8.7) >120 days since vaccination. Higher estimates were observed after the third dose with VE estimates against infection of 86.1% (Delta, 95% CI: 83.3; 88.4) and 57.7% (Omicron, 95% CI: 55.9; 59.5) 14 to 30 days since vaccination. Among both age groups, VE against COVID-19 hospitalization 14 to 30 days since vaccination with 2 or 3 doses was 98.1% or above for the Alpha and Delta variants. Among both age groups, VE against COVID-19 hospitalization 14 to 30 days since vaccination with 2 or 3 doses was 95.5% or above for the Omicron variant. The main limitation of this study is the nonrandomized study design including potential differences between the unvaccinated (reference group) and vaccinated individuals.
Conclusions
Two vaccine doses provided high protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 hospitalization with the Alpha and Delta variants with protection, notably against infection, waning over time. Two vaccine doses provided only limited and short-lived protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection with Omicron. However, the protection against COVID-19 hospitalization following Omicron SARS-CoV-2 infection was higher. The third vaccine dose substantially increased the level and duration of protection against infection with the Omicron variant and provided a high level of sustained protection against COVID-19 hospitalization among the +60-year-olds.



PLoS Med: 01 Sep 2022; 19:e1003992
Gram MA, Emborg HD, Schelde AB, Friis NU, ... Valentiner-Branth P, Hansen CH
PLoS Med: 01 Sep 2022; 19:e1003992 | PMID: 36048766
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Abstract

The global prevalence of female genital mutilation/cutting: A systematic review and meta-analysis of national, regional, facility, and school-based studies.

Farouki L, El-Dirani Z, Abdulrahim S, Akl C, Akik C, McCall SJ
Background
Female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) is a nonmedical procedure entailing the modification of the external female genitalia. A description of the prevalence and distribution of FGM/C allows the tracking of progress toward ending FGM/C by 2030 (Sustainable Development Goal (SDG): target 5.3). This systematic review aimed to examine FGM/C prevalence and types, by World Health Organization (WHO) region and country.
Methods and findings
A systematic search using Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) and keywords from 2009 to March 24, 2022 was undertaken in MEDLINE, PubMED, PsycINFO, Web of Science, and Embase to identify studies presenting FGM/C prevalence. Abstract and full-text screening, quality assessment, and data extraction were undertaken by 2 reviewers. Only nationally representative studies were included in the meta-analysis. Pooled FGM/C prevalence was estimated by random-effects meta-analysis using generalized linear mixed models (GLMMs). FGM/C prevalence with 95% confidence intervals (CIs), prediction intervals (PIs), and FGM/C type were presented separately by women aged 15 to 49 years and girls aged 0 to 14 years. A total of 163 studies met the inclusion criteria and 30 were included in the meta-analysis, of which 23 were from the WHO African Region (AFR), 6 from the Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR), and 1 from the South East Asian Region (SEAR). These studies included data from 406,068 women across 30 countries and 296,267 girls across 25 countries; the pooled prevalence estimate of FGM/C among women aged 15 to 49 years was 36.9% (95% CI: 19.6% to 58.3%; PI: 0.4% to 99.0%), and 8.27% (95% CI: 3.7% to 17.3%; PI: 0.1% to 89.3%) among girls aged 0 to 14 years. Among included countries, this gave a total estimated prevalence of 84,650,032 women (95% CI: 45,009,041 to 133,834,224) and 13,734,845 girls with FGM/C (95% CI: 6,211,405 to 28,731,901). Somalia had the highest FGM/C prevalence among women (99.2%), and Mali had the highest among girls (72.7%). The most common type of FGM/C among women was \"flesh removed\" (Type I or II) in 19 countries. Among girls, \"not sewn closed\" (Type I, II, or IV) and \"flesh removed\" (Type I or II) were the most common types in 8 countries, respectively. Among repeated nationally representative studies, FGM/C decreased for both women and girls in 26 countries. The main limitation of the study methodology is that estimates were based on available published data, which may not reflect the actual global prevalence of FGM/C.
Conclusions
In this study, we observed large variation in FGM/C prevalence between countries, and the prevalence appears to be declining in many countries, which is encouraging as it minimizes physical and physiological harm for a future generation of women. This prevalence estimate is lower than the actual global prevalence of FGM/C due to data gaps, noncomparable denominators, and unavailable surveys. Yet, considerable policy and community-level interventions are required in many countries to meet the SDG target 5.3.
Trial registration
Registration: CRD42020186937.



PLoS Med: 01 Sep 2022; 19:e1004061
Farouki L, El-Dirani Z, Abdulrahim S, Akl C, Akik C, McCall SJ
PLoS Med: 01 Sep 2022; 19:e1004061 | PMID: 36048881
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Abstract

Presentations of children to emergency departments across Europe and the COVID-19 pandemic: A multinational observational study.

Nijman RG, Honeyford K, Farrugia R, Rose K, ... Titomanlio L, in association with the REPEM network (Research in European Pediatric Emergency Medicine) as part of the EPISODES study group
Background
During the initial phase of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, reduced numbers of acutely ill or injured children presented to emergency departments (EDs). Concerns were raised about the potential for delayed and more severe presentations and an increase in diagnoses such as diabetic ketoacidosis and mental health issues. This multinational observational study aimed to study the number of children presenting to EDs across Europe during the early COVID-19 pandemic and factors influencing this and to investigate changes in severity of illness and diagnoses.
Methods and findings
Routine health data were extracted retrospectively from electronic patient records of children aged 18 years and under, presenting to 38 EDs in 16 European countries for the period January 2018 to May 2020, using predefined and standardized data domains. Observed and predicted numbers of ED attendances were calculated for the period February 2020 to May 2020. Poisson models and incidence rate ratios (IRRs), using predicted counts for each site as offset to adjust for case-mix differences, were used to compare age groups, diagnoses, and outcomes. Reductions in pediatric ED attendances, hospital admissions, and high triage urgencies were seen in all participating sites. ED attendances were relatively higher in countries with lower SARS-CoV-2 prevalence (IRR 2·26, 95% CI 1·90 to 2·70, p < 0.001) and in children aged <12 months (12 to <24 months IRR 0·86, 95% CI 0·84 to 0·89; 2 to <5 years IRR 0·80, 95% CI 0·78 to 0·82; 5 to <12 years IRR 0·68, 95% CI 0·67 to 0·70; 12 to 18 years IRR 0·72, 95% CI 0·70 to 0·74; versus age <12 months as reference group, p < 0.001). The lowering of pediatric intensive care admissions was not as great as that of general admissions (IRR 1·30, 95% CI 1·16 to 1·45, p < 0.001). Lower triage urgencies were reduced more than higher triage urgencies (urgent triage IRR 1·10, 95% CI 1·08 to 1·12; emergent and very urgent triage IRR 1·53, 95% CI 1·49 to 1·57; versus nonurgent triage category, p < 0.001). Reductions were highest and sustained throughout the study period for children with communicable infectious diseases. The main limitation was the retrospective nature of the study, using routine clinical data from a wide range of European hospitals and health systems.
Conclusions
Reductions in ED attendances were seen across Europe during the first COVID-19 lockdown period. More severely ill children continued to attend hospital more frequently compared to those with minor injuries and illnesses, although absolute numbers fell.
Trial registration
ISRCTN91495258 https://www.isrctn.com/ISRCTN91495258.



PLoS Med: 26 Aug 2022; 19:e1003974
Nijman RG, Honeyford K, Farrugia R, Rose K, ... Titomanlio L, in association with the REPEM network (Research in European Pediatric Emergency Medicine) as part of the EPISODES study group
PLoS Med: 26 Aug 2022; 19:e1003974 | PMID: 36026507
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Abstract

The performance of using dried blood spot specimens for HIV-1 viral load testing: A systematic review and meta-analysis.

Vojnov L, Carmona S, Zeh C, Markby J, ... Nkengasong J, DBS for VL Diagnostics Investigation Consortium
Background
Accurate routine HIV viral load testing is essential for assessing the efficacy of antiretroviral treatment (ART) regimens and the emergence of drug resistance. While the use of plasma specimens is the standard for viral load testing, its use is restricted by the limited ambient temperature stability of viral load biomarkers in whole blood and plasma during storage and transportation and the limited cold chain available between many health care facilities in resource-limited settings. Alternative specimen types and technologies, such as dried blood spots, may address these issues and increase access to viral load testing; however, their technical performance is unclear. To address this, we conducted a meta-analysis comparing viral load results from paired dried blood spot and plasma specimens analyzed with commonly used viral load testing technologies.
Methods and findings
Standard databases, conferences, and gray literature were searched in 2013 and 2018. Nearly all studies identified (60) were conducted between 2007 and 2018. Data from 40 of the 60 studies were included in the meta-analysis, which accounted for a total of 10,871 paired dried blood spot:plasma data points. We used random effects models to determine the bias, accuracy, precision, and misclassification for each viral load technology and to account for between-study variation. Dried blood spot specimens produced consistently higher mean viral loads across all technologies when compared to plasma specimens. However, when used to identify virological failure, each technology compared best to plasma at a threshold of 1,000 copies/ml, the present World Health Organization recommended virological failure threshold. Some heterogeneity existed between technologies; however, 5 technologies had a sensitivity greater than 95%. Furthermore, 5 technologies had a specificity greater than 85% yet 2 technologies had a specificity less than 60% using a treatment failure threshold of 1,000 copies/ml. The study\'s main limitation was the direct applicability of findings as nearly all studies to date used dried blood spot samples prepared in laboratories using precision pipetting that resulted in consistent input volumes.
Conclusions
This analysis provides evidence to support the implementation and scale-up of dried blood spot specimens for viral load testing using the same 1,000 copies/ml virological failure threshold as used with plasma specimens. This may support improved access to viral load testing in resource-limited settings lacking the required infrastructure and cold chain storage for testing with plasma specimens.



PLoS Med: 22 Aug 2022; 19:e1004076
Vojnov L, Carmona S, Zeh C, Markby J, ... Nkengasong J, DBS for VL Diagnostics Investigation Consortium
PLoS Med: 22 Aug 2022; 19:e1004076 | PMID: 35994520
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Abstract

Evaluation of an on-site sanitation intervention against childhood diarrhea and acute respiratory infection 1 to 3.5 years after implementation: Extended follow-up of a cluster-randomized controlled trial in rural Bangladesh.

Contreras JD, Islam M, Mertens A, Pickering AJ, ... Colford JM, Ercumen A
Background
Diarrhea and acute respiratory infection (ARI) are leading causes of death in children. The WASH Benefits Bangladesh trial implemented a multicomponent sanitation intervention that led to a 39% reduction in the prevalence of diarrhea among children and a 25% reduction for ARI, measured 1 to 2 years after intervention implementation. We measured longer-term intervention effects on these outcomes between 1 to 3.5 years after intervention implementation, including periods with differing intensity of behavioral promotion.
Methods and findings
WASH Benefits Bangladesh was a cluster-randomized controlled trial of water, sanitation, hygiene, and nutrition interventions (NCT01590095). The sanitation intervention included provision of or upgrades to improved latrines, sani-scoops for feces removal, children\'s potties, and in-person behavioral promotion. Promotion was intensive up to 2 years after intervention initiation, decreased in intensity between years 2 to 3, and stopped after 3 years. Access to and reported use of latrines was high in both arms, and latrine quality was significantly improved by the intervention, while use of child feces management tools was low. We enrolled a random subset of households from the sanitation and control arms into a longitudinal substudy, which measured child health with quarterly visits between 1 to 3.5 years after intervention implementation. The study period therefore included approximately 1 year of high-intensity promotion, 1 year of low-intensity promotion, and 6 months with no promotion. We assessed intervention effects on diarrhea and ARI prevalence among children <5 years through intention-to-treat analysis using generalized linear models with robust standard errors. Masking was not possible during data collection, but data analysis was masked. We enrolled 720 households (360 per arm) from the parent trial and made 9,800 child observations between June 2014 and December 2016. Over the entire study period, diarrheal prevalence was lower among children in the sanitation arm (11.9%) compared to the control arm (14.5%) (prevalence ratio [PR] = 0.81, 95% CI 0.66, 1.00, p = 0.05; prevalence difference [PD] = -0.027, 95% CI -0.053, 0, p = 0.05). ARI prevalence did not differ between sanitation (21.3%) and control (22.7%) arms (PR = 0.93, 95% CI 0.82, 1.05, p = 0.23; PD = -0.016, 95% CI -0.043, 0.010, p = 0.23). There were no significant differences in intervention effects between periods with high-intensity versus low-intensity/no promotion. Study limitations include use of caregiver-reported symptoms to define health outcomes and limited data collected after promotion ceased.
Conclusions
The observed effect of the WASH Benefits Bangladesh sanitation intervention on diarrhea in children appeared to be sustained for at least 3.5 years after implementation, including 1.5 years after heavy promotion ceased. Existing latrine access was high in the study setting, suggesting that improving on-site latrine quality can deliver health benefits when latrine use practices are in place. Further work is needed to understand how latrine adoption can be achieved and sustained in settings with low existing access and how sanitation programs can adopt transformative approaches of excreta management, including safe disposal of child and animal feces, to generate a hygienic home environment.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov; NCT01590095; https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01590095.



PLoS Med: 08 Aug 2022; 19:e1004041
Contreras JD, Islam M, Mertens A, Pickering AJ, ... Colford JM, Ercumen A
PLoS Med: 08 Aug 2022; 19:e1004041 | PMID: 35939520
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Abstract

Income differences in COVID-19 incidence and severity in Finland among people with foreign and native background: A population-based cohort study of individuals nested within households.

Saarinen S, Moustgaard H, Remes H, Sallinen R, Martikainen P
Background
Although intrahousehold transmission is a key source of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) infections, studies to date have not analysed socioeconomic risk factors on the household level or household clustering of severe COVID-19. We quantify household income differences and household clustering of COVID-19 incidence and severity.
Methods and findings
We used register-based cohort data with individual-level linkage across various administrative registers for the total Finnish population living in working-age private households (N = 4,315,342). Incident COVID-19 cases (N = 38,467) were identified from the National Infectious Diseases Register from 1 July 2020 to 22 February 2021. Severe cases (N = 625) were defined as having at least 3 consecutive days of inpatient care with a COVID-19 diagnosis and identified from the Care Register for Health Care between 1 July 2020 and 31 December 2020. We used 2-level logistic regression with individuals nested within households to estimate COVID-19 incidence and case severity among those infected. Adjusted for age, sex, and regional characteristics, the incidence of COVID-19 was higher (odds ratio [OR] 1.67, 95% CI 1.58 to 1.77, p < 0.001, 28.4% of infections) among individuals in the lowest household income quintile than among those in the highest quintile (18.9%). The difference attenuated (OR 1.23, 1.16 to 1.30, p < 0.001) when controlling for foreign background but not when controlling for other household-level risk factors. In fact, we found a clear income gradient in incidence only among people with foreign background but none among those with native background. The odds of severe illness among those infected were also higher in the lowest income quintile (OR 1.97, 1.52 to 2.56, p < 0.001, 28.0% versus 21.6% in the highest quintile), but this difference was fully attenuated (OR 1.08, 0.77 to 1.52, p = 0.64) when controlling for other individual-level risk factors-comorbidities, occupational status, and foreign background. Both incidence and severity were strongly clustered within households: Around 77% of the variation in incidence and 20% in severity were attributable to differences between households. The main limitation of our study was that the test uptake for COVID-19 may have differed between population subgroups.
Conclusions
Low household income appears to be a strong risk factor for both COVID-19 incidence and case severity, but the income differences are largely driven by having foreign background. The strong household clustering of incidence and severity highlights the importance of household context in the prevention and mitigation of COVID-19 outcomes.



PLoS Med: 01 Aug 2022; 19:e1004038
Saarinen S, Moustgaard H, Remes H, Sallinen R, Martikainen P
PLoS Med: 01 Aug 2022; 19:e1004038 | PMID: 35947575
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Abstract

Universal healthcare coverage and health service delivery before and during the COVID-19 pandemic: A difference-in-difference study of childhood immunization coverage from 195 countries.

Kim S, Headley TY, Tozan Y
Background
Several studies have indicated that universal health coverage (UHC) improves health service utilization and outcomes in countries. These studies, however, have primarily assessed UHC\'s peacetime impact, limiting our understanding of UHC\'s potential protective effects during public health crises such as the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. We empirically explored whether countries\' progress toward UHC is associated with differential COVID-19 impacts on childhood immunization coverage.
Methods and findings
Using a quasi-experimental difference-in-difference (DiD) methodology, we quantified the relationship between UHC and childhood immunization coverage before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. The analysis considered 195 World Health Organization (WHO) member states and their ability to provision 12 out of 14 childhood vaccines between 2010 and 2020 as an outcome. We used the 2019 UHC Service Coverage Index (UHC SCI) to divide countries into a \"high UHC index\" group (UHC SCI ≥80) and the rest. All analyses included potential confounders including the calendar year, countries\' income group per the World Bank classification, countries\' geographical region as defined by WHO, and countries\' preparedness for an epidemic/pandemic as represented by the Global Health Security Index 2019. For robustness, we replicated the analysis using a lower cutoff value of 50 for the UHC index. A total of 20,230 country-year observations were included in the study. The DiD estimators indicated that countries with a high UHC index (UHC SCI ≥80, n = 35) had a 2.70% smaller reduction in childhood immunization coverage during the pandemic year of 2020 as compared to the countries with UHC index less than 80 (DiD coefficient 2.70; 95% CI: 0.75, 4.65; p-value = 0.007). This relationship, however, became statistically nonsignificant at the lower cutoff value of UHC SCI <50 (n = 60). The study\'s primary limitation was scarce data availability, which restricted our ability to account for confounders and to test our hypothesis for other relevant outcomes.
Conclusions
We observed that countries with greater progress toward UHC were associated with significantly smaller declines in childhood immunization coverage during the pandemic. This identified association may potentially provide support for the importance of UHC in building health system resilience. Our findings strongly suggest that policymakers should continue to advocate for achieving UHC in coming years.



PLoS Med: 01 Aug 2022; 19:e1004060
Kim S, Headley TY, Tozan Y
PLoS Med: 01 Aug 2022; 19:e1004060 | PMID: 35972985
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Abstract

Effectiveness of a brief group behavioural intervention on psychological distress in young adolescent Syrian refugees: A randomised controlled trial.

Bryant RA, Malik A, Aqel IS, Ghatasheh M, ... van Ommeren M, Akhtar A
Background
Millions of young adolescents in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) affected by humanitarian crises experience elevated rates of poor mental health. There is a need for scalable programs that can improve the mental health of young adolescents. This study evaluated the effectiveness of a nonspecialist delivered group-based intervention (Early Adolescent Skills for Emotions (EASE)) to improve young adolescents\' mental health.
Methods and findings
In this single-blind, parallel, controlled trial, Syrian refugees aged 10 to 14 years in Jordan were identified through screening of psychological distress as defined by scores ≥15 on the Paediatric Symptom Scale. Participants were randomised to either EASE or enhanced usual care (EUC) involving referral to local psychosocial services (on a 1:1.6 ratio). Participants were aware of treatment allocation but assessors were blinded. Primary outcomes were scores on the Paediatric Symptom Checklist (PSC; internalising, externalising, and attentional difficulty scales) assessed at week 0, 9 weeks, and 3 months after treatment (primary outcome time point). It was hypothesised that EASE would result in greater reductions on internalising symptoms than EUC. Secondary outcomes were depression, posttraumatic stress, well-being, functioning, school belongingness, and caregivers\' parenting and mental health. Between June 2019 and January 2020, 1,842 young adolescent refugees were screened for eligibility on the basis of psychological distress. There were 520 adolescents (28.2%) who screened positive, of whom 471 (90.6%) agreed to enter the trial. Overall, 185 were assigned to EASE and 286 to EUC, and 169 and 254 were retained at 3 months for EASE and EUC, respectively. Intent-to-treat analyses indicated that at 3 months, EASE resulted in greater reduction on the PSC-internalising scale than EUC (estimated mean difference 0.69, 95% CI 0.19 to 1.19; p = 0.007; effect size, 0.38) but there were no differences for PSC-externalising (estimated mean difference 0.24, 95% CI -0.43 to 0.91; p = 0.49; effect size, -0.10), PSC-attentional problem (estimated mean difference -0.01, 95% CI -0.51 to 0.54; p = 0.97; effect size, -0.01) scores, or on depression, posttraumatic stress, well-being, functioning, or school belongingness. Relative to EUC, caregivers in EASE had less psychological distress (estimated mean difference 1.95, 95% CI 0.71 to 3.19; p = 0.002) and inconsistent disciplinary parenting (mean difference 1.54, 95% CI 1.03 to 2.05; p < 0.001). Secondary analyses that (a) focused on adolescents with probable internalising disorders; (b) completed the 3-month assessment; and (c) controlled for trauma exposure did not alter the primary results. Mediation analysis indicated that for caregivers in the EASE condition, reduction in inconsistent disciplinary parenting was associated with reduced attentional (β = 0.11, SE 0.07; 95% CI 0.003, 0.274) and internalising (β = 0.11, SE 0.07; 95% CI 0.003, 0.274) problems in their children. No adverse events were attributable to the intervention. A limitation was that EUC was not matched to EASE in terms of facilitator attention or group involvement.
Conclusions
EASE led to reduced internalising problems in young refugee adolescents and was associated with reduced distress and less inconsistent disciplinary parenting in caregivers. This intervention has the potential as a scalable intervention to mitigate young adolescents\' emotional difficulties in LMIC.
Trial registration
Prospectively registered at Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry: ACTRN12619000341123.



PLoS Med: 01 Aug 2022; 19:e1004046
Bryant RA, Malik A, Aqel IS, Ghatasheh M, ... van Ommeren M, Akhtar A
PLoS Med: 01 Aug 2022; 19:e1004046 | PMID: 35960704
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Abstract

Lipid levels in midlife and risk of atrial fibrillation over 3 decades-Experience from the Swedish AMORIS cohort: A cohort study.

Ding M, Wennberg A, Gigante B, Walldius G, Hammar N, Modig K
Background
The role of cholesterol levels in the development of atrial fibrillation (AF) is still controversial. In addition, whether and to what extent apolipoproteins are associated with the risk of AF is rarely studied. In this study, we aimed to investigate the association between blood lipid levels in midlife and subsequent risk of new-onset AF.
Methods and findings
This population-based study included 65,136 individuals aged 45 to 60 years without overt cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) from the Swedish Apolipoprotein-Related Mortality Risk (AMORIS) cohort. Lipids were measured in 1985 to 1996, and individuals were followed until December 31, 2019 for incident AF (i.e., study outcome). Hazard ratios (HRs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated using Cox regression, adjusting for age, sex, and socioeconomic status. Over a mean follow-up of 24.2 years (standard deviation 7.5, range 0.2 to 35.9), 13,871 (21.3%) incident AF cases occurred. Higher levels of total cholesterol (TC) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) were statistically significantly associated with a lower risk of AF during the first 5 years of follow-up (HR = 0.61, 95% CI: 0.41 to 0.99, p = 0.013; HR = 0.64, 95% CI: 0.45 to 0.92, p = 0.016), but not thereafter (HR ranging from 0.94 [95% CI: 0.89 to 1.00, p = 0.038] to 0.96 [95% CI: 0.77 to 1.19, p > 0.05]). Lower levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) and apolipoprotein A-I (ApoA-I) and higher triglycerides (TG)/HDL-C ratio were statistically significantly associated with a higher risk of AF during the entire follow-up (HR ranging from 1.13 [95% CI: 1.07 to 1.19, p < 0.001] to 1.53 [95% CI: 1.12 to 2.00, p = 0.007]). Apolipoprotein B (ApoB)/ApoA-I ratio was not associated with AF risk. The observed associations were similar among those who developed incident heart failure (HF)/coronary heart disease (CHD) and those who did not. The main limitations of this study include lack of adjustments for lifestyle factors and high blood pressure leading to potential residual confounding.
Conclusions
High TC and LDL-C in midlife was associated with a lower risk of AF, but this association was present only within 5 years from lipid measurement and not thereafter. On the contrary, low HDL-C and ApoA-I and high TG/HDL-C ratio were associated with an increased risk of AF over almost 35 years of follow-up. ApoB/ApoA-I ratio was not associated with AF risk.



PLoS Med: 01 Aug 2022; 19:e1004044
Ding M, Wennberg A, Gigante B, Walldius G, Hammar N, Modig K
PLoS Med: 01 Aug 2022; 19:e1004044 | PMID: 35951514
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Abstract

Quantifying inequities in COVID-19 vaccine distribution over time by social vulnerability, race and ethnicity, and location: A population-level analysis in St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri.

Mody A, Bradley C, Redkar S, Fox B, ... Powderly WG, Geng EH
Background
Equity in vaccination coverage is a cornerstone for a successful public health response to COVID-19. To deepen understanding of the extent to which vaccination coverage compares with initial strategies for equitable vaccination, we explore primary vaccine series and booster rollout over time and by race/ethnicity, social vulnerability, and geography.
Methods and findings
We analyzed data from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services on all COVID-19 vaccinations administered across 7 counties in the St. Louis region and 4 counties in the Kansas City region. We compared rates of receiving the primary COVID-19 vaccine series and boosters relative to time, race/ethnicity, zip-code-level Social Vulnerability Index (SVI), vaccine location type, and COVID-19 disease burden. We adapted a well-established tool for measuring inequity-the Lorenz curve-to quantify inequities in COVID-19 vaccination relative to these key metrics. Between 15 December 2020 and 15 February 2022, 1,763,036 individuals completed the primary series and 872,324 received a booster. During early phases of the primary series rollout, Black and Hispanic individuals from high SVI zip codes were vaccinated at less than half the rate of White individuals from low SVI zip codes, but rates increased over time until they were higher than rates in White individuals after June 2021; Asian individuals maintained high levels of vaccination throughout. Increasing vaccination rates in Black and Hispanic communities corresponded with periods when more vaccinations were offered at small community-based sites such as pharmacies rather than larger health systems and mass vaccination sites. Using Lorenz curves, zip codes in the quartile with the lowest rates of primary series completion accounted for 19.3%, 18.1%, 10.8%, and 8.8% of vaccinations while representing 25% of the total population, cases, deaths, or population-level SVI, respectively. When tracking Gini coefficients, these disparities were greatest earlier during rollout, but improvements were slow and modest and vaccine disparities remained across all metrics even after 1 year. Patterns of disparities for boosters were similar but often of much greater magnitude during rollout in fall 2021. Study limitations include inherent limitations in the vaccine registry dataset such as missing and misclassified race/ethnicity and zip code variables and potential changes in zip code population sizes since census enumeration.
Conclusions
Inequities in the initial COVID-19 vaccination and booster rollout in 2 large US metropolitan areas were apparent across racial/ethnic communities, across levels of social vulnerability, over time, and across types of vaccination administration sites. Disparities in receipt of the primary vaccine series attenuated over time during a period in which sites of vaccination administration diversified, but were recapitulated during booster rollout. These findings highlight how public health strategies from the outset must directly target these deeply embedded structural and systemic determinants of disparities and track equity metrics over time to avoid perpetuating inequities in healthcare access.



PLoS Med: 01 Aug 2022; 19:e1004048
Mody A, Bradley C, Redkar S, Fox B, ... Powderly WG, Geng EH
PLoS Med: 01 Aug 2022; 19:e1004048 | PMID: 36026527
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Abstract

Urban-rural differences in hypertension prevalence in low-income and middle-income countries, 1990-2020: A systematic review and meta-analysis.

Ranzani OT, Kalra A, Di Girolamo C, Curto A, ... Basagaña X, Tonne C
Background
The influence of urbanicity on hypertension prevalence remains poorly understood. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to assess the difference in hypertension prevalence between urban and rural areas in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs), where the most pronounced urbanisation is underway.
Methods and findings
We searched PubMed, Web of Science, Scopus, and Embase, from 01/01/1990 to 10/03/2022. We included population-based studies with ≥400 participants 15 years and older, selected by using a valid sampling technique, from LMICs that reported the urban-rural difference in hypertension prevalence using similar blood pressure measurements. We excluded abstracts, reviews, non-English studies, and those with exclusively self-reported hypertension prevalence. Study selection, quality assessment, and data extraction were performed by 2 independent reviewers following a standardised protocol. Our primary outcome was the urban minus rural prevalence of hypertension. Hypertension was defined as systolic blood pressure ≥140 mm Hg and/or diastolic blood pressure as ≥90 mm Hg and could include use of antihypertensive medication, self-reported diagnosis, or both. We investigated heterogeneity using study-level and socioeconomic country-level indicators. We conducted meta-analysis and meta-regression using random-effects models. This systematic review and meta-analysis has been registered with PROSPERO (CRD42018091671). We included 299 surveys from 66 LMICs, including 19,770,946 participants (mean age 45.4 ± SD = 9 years, 53.0% females and 63.1% from rural areas). The pooled prevalence of hypertension was 30.5% (95% CI, 28.9, 32.0) in urban areas and 27.9% (95% CI, 26.3, 29.6) in rural areas, resulting in a pooled urban-rural difference of 2.45% (95% CI, 1.57, 3.33, I-square: 99.71%, tau-square: 0.00524, Pheterogeneity < 0.001). Hypertension prevalence increased over time and the rate of change was greater in rural compared to urban areas, resulting in a pooled urban-rural difference of 5.75% (95% CI, 4.02, 7.48) in the period 1990 to 2004 and 1.38% (95% CI, 0.40, 2.37) in the period 2005 to 2020, p < 0.001 for time period. We observed substantial heterogeneity in the urban-rural difference of hypertension, which was partially explained by urban-rural definition, probably high risk of bias in sampling, country income status, region, and socioeconomic indicators. The urban-rural difference was 5.67% (95% CI, 4.22, 7.13) in low, 2.74% (95% CI, 1.41, 4.07) in lower-middle and -1.22% (95% CI, -2.73, 0.28) in upper-middle-income countries in the period 1990 to 2020, p < 0.001 for country income. The urban-rural difference was highest for South Asia (7.50%, 95% CI, 5.73, 9.26), followed by sub-Saharan Africa (4.24%, 95% CI, 2.62, 5.86) and reversed for Europe and Central Asia (-6.04%, 95% CI, -9.06, -3.01), in the period 1990 to 2020, p < 0.001 for region. Finally, the urban-rural difference in hypertension prevalence decreased nonlinearly with improvements in Human Development Index and infant mortality rate. Limitations included lack of data available from all LMICs and variability in urban and rural definitions in the literature.
Conclusions
The prevalence of hypertension in LMICs increased between 1990 and 2020 in both urban and rural areas, but with a stronger trend in rural areas. The urban minus rural hypertension difference decreased with time, and with country-level socioeconomic development. Focused action, particularly in rural areas, is needed to tackle the burden of hypertension in LMICs.



PLoS Med: 01 Aug 2022; 19:e1004079
Ranzani OT, Kalra A, Di Girolamo C, Curto A, ... Basagaña X, Tonne C
PLoS Med: 01 Aug 2022; 19:e1004079 | PMID: 36007101
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Abstract

Healthcare utilization and maternal and child mortality during the COVID-19 pandemic in 18 low- and middle-income countries: An interrupted time-series analysis with mathematical modeling of administrative data.

Ahmed T, Roberton T, Vergeer P, Hansen PM, ... Friedman J, Shapira G
Background
The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has had wide-reaching direct and indirect impacts on population health. In low- and middle-income countries, these impacts can halt progress toward reducing maternal and child mortality. This study estimates changes in health services utilization during the pandemic and the associated consequences for maternal, neonatal, and child mortality.
Methods and findings
Data on service utilization from January 2018 to June 2021 were extracted from health management information systems of 18 low- and lower-middle-income countries (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Haiti, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, and Uganda). An interrupted time-series design was used to estimate the percent change in the volumes of outpatient consultations and maternal and child health services delivered during the pandemic compared to projected volumes based on prepandemic trends. The Lives Saved Tool mathematical model was used to project the impact of the service utilization disruptions on child and maternal mortality. In addition, the estimated monthly disruptions were also correlated to the monthly number of COVID-19 deaths officially reported, time since the start of the pandemic, and relative severity of mobility restrictions. Across the 18 countries, we estimate an average decline in OPD volume of 13.1% and average declines of 2.6% to 4.6% for maternal and child services. We projected that decreases in essential health service utilization between March 2020 and June 2021 were associated with 113,962 excess deaths (110,686 children under 5, and 3,276 mothers), representing 3.6% and 1.5% increases in child and maternal mortality, respectively. This excess mortality is associated with the decline in utilization of the essential health services included in the analysis, but the utilization shortfalls vary substantially between countries, health services, and over time. The largest disruptions, associated with 27.5% of the excess deaths, occurred during the second quarter of 2020, regardless of whether countries reported the highest rate of COVID-19-related mortality during the same months. There is a significant relationship between the magnitude of service disruptions and the stringency of mobility restrictions. The study is limited by the extent to which administrative data, which varies in quality across countries, can accurately capture the changes in service coverage in the population.
Conclusions
Declines in healthcare utilization during the COVID-19 pandemic amplified the pandemic\'s harmful impacts on health outcomes and threaten to reverse gains in reducing maternal and child mortality. As efforts and resource allocation toward prevention and treatment of COVID-19 continue, essential health services must be maintained, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.



PLoS Med: 01 Aug 2022; 19:e1004070
Ahmed T, Roberton T, Vergeer P, Hansen PM, ... Friedman J, Shapira G
PLoS Med: 01 Aug 2022; 19:e1004070 | PMID: 36040910
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Abstract

Trends in smoking prevalence in urban and rural China, 2007 to 2018: Findings from 5 consecutive nationally representative cross-sectional surveys.

Zhang M, Yang L, Wang L, Jiang Y, ... Chen Z, Zhou M
Background
Tobacco smoking is a leading cause of premature death in China, especially among adult men. Since the implementation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2005, nationwide tobacco control has been strengthened, but its long-term impact on smoking prevalence is unclear.
Methods and findings
Five nationally representative surveys of the China Chronic Disease and Risk Factor Surveillance (CCDRFS) were conducted in 2007, 2010, 2013, 2015, and 2018. A total of 624,568 adults (278,605 men and 345,963 women) aged 18 to 69 years were randomly selected from 31 provinces (or equivalent) in China. Temporal changes in smoking prevalence and patterns (e.g., percentages of those smoking manufactured cigarettes, amount smoked, and age at smoking initiation) were analyzed, overall and by sex, urban or rural residence, year of birth, education and occupation, using linear regression methods. Among men, the standardized prevalence of current smoking decreased from 58.4% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 56.1 to 60.7) to 50.8% (95% CI: 49.1 to 52.5, p < 0.001) between 2007 and 2018, with annual decrease more pronounced in urban (55.7% [95% CI: 51.2 to 60.3] to 46.3% [95% CI: 43.7 to 49.0], p < 0.001) than rural men (59.9% [95% CI: 57.5 to 62.4] to 54.6% [95% CI: 52.6 to 56.6], p = 0.05) and in those born before than after 1980. Among rural men born after 1990, however, the prevalence increased from 40.2% [95% CI: 34.0 to 46.4] to 52.1% ([95% CI: 45.7 to 58.5], p = 0.007), with the increase taking place mainly before 2015. Among women, smoking prevalence remained extremely low at around 2% during 2007 to 2018. No significant changes of current smoking prevalence (53.9% to 50.8%, p = 0.22) were observed in male patients with at least 1 of major chronic diseases (e.g., hypertension, diabetes, myocardial infarction, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)). In 2018, 25.6% of adults aged ≥18 years smoked, translating into an estimated 282 million smokers (271 million men and 11 million women) in China. Across 31 provinces, smoking prevalence varied greatly. The 3 provinces (Yunnan, Guizhou, and Hunan) with highest per capita tobacco production had highest smoking prevalence in men (68.0%, 63.4%, and 61.5%, respectively), while lowest prevalence was observed in Shanghai (34.8%). Since the children and teenage groups were not included in the surveys, we could not assess the smoking trends among youths. Furthermore, since the smoking behavior was self-reported, the smoking prevalence could be underestimated due to reporting bias.
Conclusions
In this study, we observed that the smoking prevalence has decreased steadily in recent decades in China, but there were diverging trends between urban and rural areas, especially among men born after 1980. Future tobacco control strategies should target rural young men, regions with high tobacco production, and patients suffering from chronic diseases.



PLoS Med: 01 Aug 2022; 19:e1004064
Zhang M, Yang L, Wang L, Jiang Y, ... Chen Z, Zhou M
PLoS Med: 01 Aug 2022; 19:e1004064 | PMID: 36006870
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Abstract

Health care services use, stillbirth, and neonatal and infant survival following implementation of the Maternal Health Voucher Scheme in Bangladesh: A difference-in-differences analysis of Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey data, 2000 to 2016.

Nandi A, Charters TJ, Quamruzzaman A, Strumpf EC, ... Mukherji A, Harper S
Background
Starting in 2006 to 2007, the Government of Bangladesh implemented the Maternal Health Voucher Scheme (MHVS). This program provides pregnant women with vouchers that can be exchanged for health services from eligible public and private sector providers. In this study, we examined whether access to the MHVS was associated with maternal health services utilization, stillbirth, and neonatal and infant mortality.
Methods and findings
We used information on pregnancies and live births between 2000 to 2016 reported by women 15 to 49 years of age surveyed as part of the Bangladesh Demographic and Health Surveys. Our analytic sample included 23,275 pregnancies lasting at least 7 months for analyses of stillbirth and between 15,125 and 21,668 live births for analyses of health services use, neonatal, and infant mortality. With respect to live births occurring prior to the introduction of the MHVS, 31.3%, 14.1%, and 18.0% of women, respectively, reported receiving at least 3 antenatal care visits, delivering in a health institution, and having a skilled birth attendant at delivery. Rates of neonatal and infant mortality during this period were 40 and 63 per 1,000 live births, respectively, and there were 32 stillbirths per 1,000 pregnancies lasting at least 7 months. We applied a difference-in-differences design to estimate the effect of providing subdistrict-level access to the MHVS program, with inverse probability of treatment weights to address selection into the program. The introduction of the MHVS program was associated with a lagged improvement in the probability of delivering in a health facility, one of the primary targets of the program, although associations with other health services were less evident. After 6 years of access to the MHVS, the probabilities of reporting at least 3 antenatal care visits, delivering in a health facility, and having a skilled birth attendant present increased by 3.0 [95% confidence interval (95% CI) = -4.8, 10.7], 6.5 (95% CI = -0.6, 13.6), and 5.8 (95% CI = -1.8, 13.3) percentage points, respectively. We did not observe evidence consistent with the program improving health outcomes, with probabilities of stillbirth, neonatal mortality, and infant mortality decreasing by 0.7 (95% CI = -1.3, 2.6), 0.8 (95% CI = -1.7, 3.4), and 1.3 (95% CI = -2.5, 5.1) percentage points, respectively, after 6 years of access to the MHVS. The sample size was insufficient to detect smaller associations with adequate precision. Additionally, we cannot rule out the possibility of measurement error, although it was likely nondifferential by treatment group, or unmeasured confounding by concomitant interventions that were implemented differentially in treated and control areas.
Conclusions
In this study, we found that the introduction of the MHVS was positively associated with the probability of delivering in a health facility, but despite a longer period of follow-up than most extant evaluations, we did not observe attendant reductions in stillbirth, neonatal mortality, or infant mortality. Further work and engagement with stakeholders is needed to assess if the MHVS has affected the quality of care and health inequalities and whether the design and eligibility of the program should be modified to improve maternal and neonatal health outcomes.



PLoS Med: 01 Aug 2022; 19:e1004022
Nandi A, Charters TJ, Quamruzzaman A, Strumpf EC, ... Mukherji A, Harper S
PLoS Med: 01 Aug 2022; 19:e1004022 | PMID: 35969524
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Abstract

Crude and adjusted comparisons of cesarean delivery rates using the Robson classification: A population-based cohort study in Canada and Sweden, 2004 to 2016.

Muraca GM, Joseph KS, Razaz N, Ladfors LV, Lisonkova S, Stephansson O
Background
The Robson classification has become a global standard for comparing and monitoring cesarean delivery (CD) rates across populations and over time; however, this classification does not account for differences in important maternal, fetal, and obstetric practice factors known to impact CD rates. The objectives of our study were to identify subgroups of women contributing to differences in the CD rate in Sweden and British Columbia (BC), Canada using the Robson classification and to estimate the contribution of maternal, fetal/infant, and obstetric practice factors to differences in CD rates between countries and over time.
Methods and findings
We conducted a population-based cohort study of deliveries in Sweden (January 1, 2004 to December 31, 2016; n = 1,392,779) and BC (March 1, 2004 to April 31, 2017; n = 559,205). Deliveries were stratified into Robson categories and the CD rate, relative size of each group and its contribution to the overall CD rate were compared between the Swedish and the Canadian cohorts. Poisson and log-binomial regression were used to assess the contribution of maternal, fetal, and obstetric practice factors to spatiotemporal differences in Robson group-specific CD rates between Sweden and BC. Nulliparous women comprised 44.8% of the study population, while women of advanced maternal age (≥35 years) and women with overweight/obesity (≥25 kg/m2) constituted 23.5% and 32.4% of the study population, respectively. The CD rate in Sweden was stable at approximately 17.0% from 2004 to 2016 (p for trend = 0.10), while the CD rate increased in BC from 29.4% to 33.9% (p for trend < 0.001). Differences in CD rates between Sweden and BC varied by Robson group, for example, in Group 1 (nullipara with a term, single, cephalic fetus with spontaneous labor), the CD rate was 8.1% in Sweden and 20.4% in BC (rate ratio [RR] for BC versus Sweden = 2.52, 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.49 to 2.56, p < 0.001) and in Group 2 (nullipara, single, cephalic fetus, term gestation with induction of labor or prelabor CD), the rate of CD was 37.3% in Sweden and 45.9% in BC (RR = 1.23, 95% CI 1.22 to 1.25, p < 0.001). The effect of adjustment for maternal characteristics (e.g., age, body mass index), maternal comorbidity (e.g., preeclampsia), fetal characteristics (e.g., head position), and obstetric practice factors (e.g., epidural) ranged from no effect (e.g., among breech deliveries; Groups 6 and 7) to explaining up to 5.2% of the absolute difference in the CD rate (Group 2: adjusted CD rate in BC 40.7%, adjusted RR = 1.09, 95% CI 1.08 to 1.12, p < 0.001). Adjustment also explained a substantial fraction of the temporal change in CD rates among some Robson groups in BC. Limitations of the study include a lack of information on intrapartum details, such as labor duration as well as maternal and perinatal outcomes associated with the observed differences in CD rates.
Conclusions
In this study, we found that several factors not included in the Robson classification explain a significant proportion of the spatiotemporal difference in CD rates in some Robson groups. These findings suggest that incorporating these factors into explanatory models using the Robson classification may be useful for ensuring that public health initiatives regarding CD rates are evidence informed.



PLoS Med: 01 Aug 2022; 19:e1004077
Muraca GM, Joseph KS, Razaz N, Ladfors LV, Lisonkova S, Stephansson O
PLoS Med: 01 Aug 2022; 19:e1004077 | PMID: 35913981
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Abstract

Factors influencing appropriate use of interventions for management of women experiencing preterm birth: A mixed-methods systematic review and narrative synthesis.

Zahroh RI, Hazfiarini A, Eddy KE, Vogel JP, ... Oladapo OT, Bohren MA
Background
Preterm birth-related complications are the leading cause of death in newborns and children under 5. Health outcomes of preterm newborns can be improved with appropriate use of antenatal corticosteroids (ACSs) to promote fetal lung maturity, tocolytics to delay birth, magnesium sulphate for fetal neuroprotection, and antibiotics for preterm prelabour rupture of membranes. However, there are wide disparities in the rate and consistency in the use of these interventions across settings, which may underlie the differential health outcomes among preterm newborns. We aimed to assess factors (barriers and facilitators) affecting the appropriate use of ACS, tocolytics, magnesium sulphate, and antibiotics to improve preterm birth management.
Methods and findings
We conducted a mixed-methods systematic review including primary qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-methods studies. We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, Global Health, and grey literature from inception to 16 May 2022. Eligible studies explored perspectives of women, partners, or community members who experienced preterm birth or were at risk of preterm birth and/or received any of the 4 interventions, health workers providing maternity and newborn care, and other stakeholders involved in maternal care (e.g., facility managers, policymakers). We used an iterative narrative synthesis approach to analysis, assessed methodological limitations using the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool, and assessed confidence in each qualitative review finding using the GRADE-CERQual approach. Behaviour change models (Theoretical Domains Framework; Capability, Opportunity, and Motivation (COM-B)) were used to map barriers and facilitators affecting appropriate use of these interventions. We included 46 studies from 32 countries, describing factors affecting use of ACS (32/46 studies), tocolytics (13/46 studies), magnesium sulphate (9/46 studies), and antibiotics (5/46 studies). We identified a range of barriers influencing appropriate use of the 4 interventions globally, which include the following: inaccurate gestational age assessment, inconsistent guidelines, varied knowledge, perceived risks and benefits, perceived uncertainties and constraints in administration, confusion around prescribing and administering authority, and inadequate stock, human resources, and labour and newborn care. Women reported hesitancy in accepting interventions, as they typically learned about them during emergencies. Most included studies were from high-income countries (37/46 studies), which may affect the transferability of these findings to low- or middle-income settings.
Conclusions
In this study, we identified critical factors affecting implementation of 4 interventions to improve preterm birth management globally. Policymakers and implementers can consider these barriers and facilitators when formulating policies and planning implementation or scale-up of these interventions. Study findings can inform clinical preterm birth guidelines and implementation to ensure that barriers are addressed, and enablers are reinforced to ensure these interventions are widely available and appropriately used globally.



PLoS Med: 01 Aug 2022; 19:e1004074
Zahroh RI, Hazfiarini A, Eddy KE, Vogel JP, ... Oladapo OT, Bohren MA
PLoS Med: 01 Aug 2022; 19:e1004074 | PMID: 35998205
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Abstract

Implementation research on noncommunicable disease prevention and control interventions in low- and middle-income countries: A systematic review.

Hategeka C, Adu P, Desloge A, Marten R, ... Wei T, Kruk ME
Background
While the evidence for the clinical effectiveness of most noncommunicable disease (NCD) prevention and treatment interventions is well established, care delivery models and means of scaling these up in a variety of resource-constrained health systems are not. The objective of this review was to synthesize evidence on the current state of implementation research on priority NCD prevention and control interventions provided by health systems in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
Methods and findings
On January 20, 2021, we searched MEDLINE and EMBASE databases from 1990 through 2020 to identify implementation research studies that focused on the World Health Organization (WHO) priority NCD prevention and control interventions targeting cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and chronic respiratory disease and provided within health systems in LMICs. Any empirical and peer-reviewed studies that focused on these interventions and reported implementation outcomes were eligible for inclusion. Given the focus on this review and the heterogeneity in aims and methodologies of included studies, risk of bias assessment to understand how effect size may have been compromised by bias is not applicable. We instead commented on the distribution of research designs and discussed about stronger/weaker designs. We synthesized extracted data using descriptive statistics and following the review protocol registered in PROSPERO (CRD42021252969). Of 9,683 potential studies and 7,419 unique records screened for inclusion, 222 eligible studies evaluated 265 priority NCD prevention and control interventions implemented in 62 countries (6% in low-income countries and 90% in middle-income countries). The number of studies published has been increasing over time. Nearly 40% of all the studies were on cervical cancer. With regards to intervention type, screening accounted for 49%, treatment for 39%, while prevention for 12% (with 80% of the latter focusing on prevention of the NCD behavior risk factors). Feasibility (38%) was the most studied implementation outcome followed by adoption (23%); few studies addressed sustainability. The implementation strategies were not specified well enough. Most studies used quantitative methods (86%). The weakest study design, preexperimental, and the strongest study design, experimental, were respectively employed in 25% and 24% of included studies. Approximately 72% of studies reported funding, with international funding being the predominant source. The majority of studies were proof of concept or pilot (88%) and targeted the micro level of health system (79%). Less than 5% of studies report using implementation research framework.
Conclusions
Despite growth in implementation research on NCDs in LMICs, we found major gaps in the science. Future studies should prioritize implementation at scale, target higher levels health systems (meso and macro levels), and test sustainability of NCD programs. They should employ designs with stronger internal validity, be more conceptually driven, and use mixed methods to understand mechanisms. To maximize impact of the research under limited resources, adding implementation science outcomes to effectiveness research and regional collaborations are promising.



PLoS Med: 25 Jul 2022; 19:e1004055
Hategeka C, Adu P, Desloge A, Marten R, ... Wei T, Kruk ME
PLoS Med: 25 Jul 2022; 19:e1004055 | PMID: 35877677
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Abstract

Prevention of venous thromboembolic events in patients with lower leg immobilization after trauma: Systematic review and network meta-analysis with meta-epsidemiological approach.

Douillet D, Chapelle C, Ollier E, Mismetti P, Roy PM, Laporte S
Background
Lower limb trauma requiring immobilization is a significant contributor to overall venous thromboembolism (VTE) burden. The clinical effectiveness of thromboprophylaxis for this indication and the optimal agent strategy are still a matter of debate. Our main objective was to assess the efficacy of pharmacological thromboprophylaxis to prevent VTE in patients with isolated temporary lower limb immobilization after trauma. We aimed to estimate and compare the clinical efficacy and the safety of the different thromboprophylactic treatments to determine the best strategy.
Methods and findings
We conducted a systematic review and a Bayesian network meta-analysis (NMA) including all available randomized trials comparing a pharmacological thromboprophylactic treatment to placebo or to no treatment in patients with leg immobilization after trauma. We searched Medline, Embase, and Web of Science until July 2021. Only RCT or observational studies with analysis of confounding factors including adult patients requiring temporary immobilization for an isolated lower limb injury treated conservatively or surgically and assessing pharmacological thromboprophylactic agents or placebo or no treatment were eligible for inclusion. The primary endpoint was the incidence of major VTE (proximal deep vein thrombosis, symptomatic VTE, and pulmonary embolism-related death). We extracted data according to Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses for NMA and appraised selected trials with the Cochrane review handbook. Fourteen studies were included (8,198 patients). Compared to the control group, rivaroxaban, fondaparinux, and low molecular weight heparins were associated with a significant risk reduction of major VTE with an odds ratio of 0.02 (95% credible interval (CrI) 0.00 to 0.19), 0.22 (95% CrI 0.06 to 0.65), and 0.32 (95% CrI 0.15 to 0.56), respectively. No increase of the major bleeding risk was observed with either treatment. Rivaroxaban has the highest likelihood of being ranked top in terms of efficacy and net clinical benefit. The main limitation is that the network had as many indirect comparisons as direct comparisons.
Conclusions
This NMA confirms the favorable benefit/risk ratio of thromboprophylaxis for patients with leg immobilization after trauma with the highest level of evidence for rivaroxaban.
Trial registration
PROSPERO CRD42021257669.



PLoS Med: 18 Jul 2022; 19:e1004059
Douillet D, Chapelle C, Ollier E, Mismetti P, Roy PM, Laporte S
PLoS Med: 18 Jul 2022; 19:e1004059 | PMID: 35849624
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Abstract

Immune and endothelial activation markers and risk stratification of childhood pneumonia in Uganda: A secondary analysis of a prospective cohort study.

McDonald CR, Leligdowicz A, Conroy AL, Weckman AM, ... Hawkes MT, Kain KC
Background
Despite the global burden of pneumonia, reliable triage tools to identify children in low-resource settings at risk of severe and fatal respiratory tract infection are lacking. This study assessed the ability of circulating host markers of immune and endothelial activation quantified at presentation, relative to currently used clinical measures of disease severity, to identify children with pneumonia who are at risk of death.
Methods and findings
We conducted a secondary analysis of a prospective cohort study of children 2 to 59 months presenting to the Jinja Regional Hospital in Jinja, Uganda between February 2012 and August 2013, who met the Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI) diagnostic criteria for pneumonia. Circulating plasma markers of immune (IL-6, IL-8, CXCL-10/IP-10, CHI3L1, sTNFR1, and sTREM-1) and endothelial (sVCAM-1, sICAM-1, Angpt-1, Angpt-2, and sFlt-1) activation measured at hospital presentation were compared to lactate, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation, procalcitonin (PCT), and C-reactive protein (CRP) with a primary outcome of predicting 48-hour mortality. Of 805 children with IMCI pneumonia, 616 had severe pneumonia. Compared to 10 other immune and endothelial activation markers, sTREM-1 levels at presentation had the best predictive accuracy in identifying 48-hour mortality for children with pneumonia (AUROC 0.885, 95% CI 0.841 to 0.928; p = 0.03 to p < 0.001) and severe pneumonia (AUROC 0.870, 95% CI 0.824 to 0.916; p = 0.04 to p < 0.001). sTREM-1 was more strongly associated with 48-hour mortality than lactate (AUROC 0.745, 95% CI 0.664 to 0.826; p < 0.001), respiratory rate (AUROC 0.615, 95% CI 0.528 to 0.702; p < 0.001), oxygen saturation (AUROC 0.685, 95% CI 0.594 to 0.776; p = 0.002), PCT (AUROC 0.650, 95% CI 0.566 to 0.734; p < 0.001), and CRP (AUROC 0.562, 95% CI 0.472 to 0.653; p < 0.001) in cases of pneumonia and severe pneumonia. The main limitation of this study was the unavailability of radiographic imaging.
Conclusions
In this cohort of Ugandan children, sTREM-1 measured at hospital presentation was a significantly better indicator of 48-hour mortality risk than other common approaches to risk stratify children with pneumonia. Measuring sTREM-1 at clinical presentation may improve the early triage, management, and outcome of children with pneumonia at risk of death.
Trial registration
The trial was registered at clinicaltrial.gov (NCT04726826).



PLoS Med: 13 Jul 2022; 19:e1004057
McDonald CR, Leligdowicz A, Conroy AL, Weckman AM, ... Hawkes MT, Kain KC
PLoS Med: 13 Jul 2022; 19:e1004057 | PMID: 35830474
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This program is still in alpha version.