Maternal antiretroviral treatment for HIV infection and risk of small-for-gestational-age birth: A systematic review and meta-analysis of protease inhibitor-based treatment and timing of treatment


Background: Data indicate that certain combination antiretroviral treatment (cART) regimens, particularly protease inhibitor (PI)-based regimens, and cART initiation before conception may be associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes. The risk of having a small-for-gestational-age (SGA) infant was examined among pregnant HIV-infected mothers on 1) PI-based compared to non-PI-based cART, and 2) any cART initiated before compared to after conception.

Methods: A search was conducted using PubMed, Embase, and the Cochrane Library, and a systematic review was performed of studies published since Dec 1, 1995. Effect estimates with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were extracted and meta-analyses with random-effects models were conducted. The certainty of evidence was assessed using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation tool.

Findings: Of 783 identified studies, 28 fulfilled the inclusion criteria. Meta-analysis indicated that PI-based cART was associated with a possible slightly increased risk of SGA compared with non-PI-based cART (pooled odds ratio [OR]: 1·09; CI: 0·76, 1·55). Initiation of cART before conception was also associated with a possible slightly increased risk of SGA compared with after conception (pooled OR: 1·08; CI: 0·95, 1·22). The overall certainty of evidence was very low and low for the first and second research questions, respectively.

Interpretation: Although the benefits of cART largely outweigh the risks, these findings indicate the possibility of slightly increased risks of having an SGA infant. This indicates that careful monitoring of fetuses exposed to PI-based cART or cART before pregnancy might be reasonable. Based on the uncertainty of evidence, further research may change this conclusion.


Rebnord T, Lie RT, Daltveit AK, Sandøy IF




  • Epidemiology and Determinants of Health
    • Epidemiology
  • Population(s)
    • Women
    • General HIV+ population
  • Prevention, Engagement and Care Cascade
    • Engagement and Care Cascade
  • Engagement and Care Cascade
    • Treatment


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