• Outcomes of visceral leishmaniasis in pregnancy: A retrospective cohort study from South Sudan

      Pekelharing, JE; Gatluak, F; Harrison, T; Maldonado, F; Siddiqui, MR; Ritmeijer, K (Public Library of Science, 2020-01-24)
      INTRODUCTION: Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is endemic in South Sudan, where outbreaks occur frequently. Because of changes in the immune system during pregnancy, pregnant women are considered particularly vulnerable for developing complications of VL disease, including opportunistic infections. There is limited evidence available about clinical aspects and treatment outcomes of VL in pregnancy. We describe characteristics, maternal and pregnancy outcomes from a cohort of pregnant women with VL. METHODS: We conducted a retrospective analysis using routine programme data from a MSF health facility in Lankien, Jonglei State, South Sudan, between Oct 2014 and April 2018. Records were extracted of women diagnosed with VL while pregnant, and those symptomatic during pregnancy but diagnosed during the first two weeks postpartum. Records were matched with a random sample of non-pregnant women of reproductive age (15-45 years) with VL from the same period. RESULTS: We included 113 women with VL in pregnancy, and 223 non-pregnant women with VL. Women with VL in pregnancy presented with more severe anaemia, were more likely to need blood transfusion (OR 9.3; 95%CI 2.5-34.2) and were more often prescribed antibiotics (OR 6.0; 95%CI 3.4-10.6), as compared to non-pregnant women with VL. Adverse pregnancy outcomes, including miscarriage and premature delivery, were reported in 20% (16/81) where VL was diagnosed in pregnancy, and 50% 13/26) where VL was diagnosed postpartum. Postpartum haemorrhage was common. Pregnant women were more likely to require extension of treatment to achieve cure (OR 10.0; 95%CI 4.8-20.9), as compared to non-pregnant women with VL. Nevertheless, overall initial cure rates were high (96.5%) and mortality was low (1.8%) in this cohort of pregnant women with VL. CONCLUSION: This is the largest cohort in the literature of VL in pregnancy. Our data suggest that good maternal survival rates are possible in resource-limited settings, despite the high incidence of complications.