Background: Schistosoma haematobium is a parasitic helminth that causes urogenital pathology. The impact of urogenital schistosomiasis during pregnancy on birth outcomes and child growth is poorly understood.
Methods: Risk factors for urogenital schistosomiasis were characterized among 4437 pregnant women enrolled in a cluster-randomized community-based trial in rural Zimbabwe. Infection was defined via urine microscopy (≥1 S. haematobium egg) and urinalysis (hematuria). Associations between infection and pregnancy outcomes were assessed in case-control analyses using conditional logistic regression. The association of maternal infection with birthweight and length-for-age Z scores (LAZ) at 1 and 18 months of age were assessed using generalized estimating equations.
Results: Urogenital schistosomiasis (egg positive and/or hematuria positive) was detected in 26.8% of pregnant women. Risk factors significantly associated with infection were maternal age, education, marital status, and religion; household drinking water source and latrine; study region; and season. Urogenital schistosomiasis was not significantly associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes (miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm, and small-for-gestational age), birthweight, neonatal death, or LAZ.
Conclusions: Including pregnant women in antihelminthic treatment programs would benefit a large number of women in rural Zimbabwe. However, clearance of the low-intensity infections that predominate in this context is unlikely to have additive benefits for pregnancy outcomes or child growth.
Clinical trials registration: NCT01824940.
Keywords: Schistosoma haematobium; Zimbabwe; adverse birth outcomes; birthweight; child health; pregnancy; schistosomiasis; stunting; women.
© The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press for the Infectious Diseases Society of America.