Adverse birth outcomes and their clinical phenotypes in an urban Zambian cohort

Gates Open Res. 2020 Jan 24:3:1533. doi: 10.12688/gatesopenres.13046.2. eCollection 2019.


Background: Few cohort studies of pregnancy in sub-Saharan Africa use rigorous gestational age dating and clinical phenotyping. As a result, incidence and risk factors of adverse birth outcomes are inadequately characterized. Methods: The Zambian Preterm Birth Prevention Study (ZAPPS) is a prospective observational cohort established to investigate adverse birth outcomes at a referral hospital in urban Lusaka. This report describes ZAPPS phase I, enrolled August 2015 to September 2017. Women were followed through pregnancy and 42 days postpartum. At delivery, study staff assessed neonatal vital status, birthweight, and sex, and assigned a delivery phenotype. Primary outcomes were: (1) preterm birth (PTB; delivery <37 weeks), (2) small-for-gestational-age (SGA; <10 th percentile weight-for-age at birth), and (3) stillbirth (SB; delivery of an infant without signs of life). Results: ZAPPS phase I enrolled 1450 women with median age 27 years (IQR 23-32). Most participants (68%) were multiparous, of whom 41% reported a prior PTB and 14% reported a prior stillbirth. Twins were present in 3% of pregnancies, 3% of women had short cervix (<25mm), 24% of women were HIV seropositive, and 5% were syphilis seropositive. Of 1216 (84%) retained at delivery, 15% were preterm, 18% small-for-gestational-age, and 4% stillborn. PTB risk was higher with prior PTB (aRR 1.88; 95%CI 1.32-2.68), short cervix (aRR 2.62; 95%CI 1.68-4.09), twins (aRR 5.22; 95%CI 3.67-7.43), and antenatal hypertension (aRR 2.04; 95%CI 1.43-2.91). SGA risk was higher with twins (aRR 2.75; 95%CI 1.81-4.18) and antenatal hypertension (aRR 1.62; 95%CI 1.16-2.26). SB risk was higher with short cervix (aRR 6.42; 95%CI 2.56-16.1). Conclusio ns: This study confirms high rates of PTB, SGA, and SB among pregnant women in Lusaka, Zambia. Accurate gestational age dating and careful ascertainment of delivery data are critical to understanding the scope of adverse birth outcomes in low-resource settings.

Keywords: Zambia; adverse birth outcomes; pregnancy; preterm birth; small for gestational age; stillbirth; sub-Saharan Africa.