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Original Contribution
July 1, 1998

Perinatal HIV-1 Transmission: Interaction Between Zidovudine Prophylaxis and Mode of Delivery in the French Perinatal Cohort

Author Affiliations

From the Service de Gynécologie-Obstétrique I, Hôpital Cochin-Port Royal and the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM) U149, Paris, France (Dr Mandelbrot); INSERM U292, Kremlin-Bicêtre, France (Mr Le Chenadec and Ms Mayaux); Service de Gynécologie-Obstétrique, Hôpital de La Grave, Toulouse, France (Dr Berrebi); Service de Gynécologie-Obstétrique, Hôpital de L'Archet 2, Nice, France (Dr Bongain); Service de Gynécologie-Obstétrique, Hôpital Bichat, Paris (Dr Bénifla); Service de Médecine Interne, Hôpital de Kremlin-Bicêtre (Dr Delfraissy); and the Service de Pédiatrie, Hôpital Necker, Paris (Dr Blanche).

JAMA. 1998;280(1):55-60. doi:10.1001/jama.280.1.55

Context.— It is unclear whether elective cesarean delivery may have a protective effect against the transmission of human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1).

Objective.— To investigate whether mode of delivery has an impact on perinatal HIV-1 transmission in the presence of zidovudine prophylaxis.

Design.— A prospective cohort study.

Setting.— The 85 perinatal centers in the French Perinatal Cohort, from 1985 to 1996.

Patients.— A total of 2834 singleton children born to mothers with HIV-1 infection.

Main Outcome Measure.— Human immunodeficiency virus 1 infection of the infant.

Results.— No zidovudine was used in 1917 pregnancies and zidovudine prophylaxis was used in 902 pregnancies. Cesarean deliveries were performed in 10.9% on an emergent basis and in 8.3% electively, prior to labor or membrane rupture. In 1917 mothers who did not receive zidovudine, of 1877 with information on mode of delivery, 17.2% transmitted HIV-1 to their child. Risk factors statistically significantly associated with transmission were maternal p24 antigenemia, cervicovaginal infections during pregnancy, amniotic fluid color, and rupture of membranes 4 hours or more before delivery. Mode of delivery was not related to transmission. In 902 mothers receiving zidovudine, transmission was 6.4% in 872 with information on mode of delivery, and elective cesarean delivery (n=133) was associated with a lower transmission rate than emergent cesarean or vaginal delivery (0.8%, 11.4%, and 6.6%, respectively; P=.002). In a multivariate analysis of all mother-child pairs, including obstetrical risk factors, maternal p24 antigenemia, and zidovudine prophylaxis, interaction between mode of delivery and zidovudine prophylaxis was significant (P=.007). In the multivariate analysis of pregnancies with zidovudine prophylaxis, factors related to transmission rate were maternal p24 antigenemia, amniotic fluid color, and mode of delivery. Adjusted odds ratios (95% confidence intervals) were 1.6 (0.7-3.6) for emergent cesarean delivery and 0.2 (0.0-0.9) for elective cesarean delivery (P=.04) in comparison with vaginal delivery.

Conclusions.— We observed an interaction between zidovudine prophylaxis and elective cesarean delivery in decreasing transmission of HIV-1 from mother to child. This observation may have clinical implications for prevention.