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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UNMC: Study Finds Pregnancy May Increase Risk of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Infection Due to Pregnancy Induced Immune Suppression

Pregnancy may increase the risk of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infection because of pregnancy induced immune suppression. The objective of this study was to use a large population-based dataset to estimate the prevalence of HPV infection and its association with adverse outcomes among pregnant women.

Dr. Shinobu Watanabe-Galloway — vice chair and associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) College of Public Health — and colleagues, analyzed Pregnancy Risk Monitoring System data from 2004-2011 (N=26,085) to estimate the self-reported HPV infection. Survey logistic procedures were used to examine the relationship between HPV infection and adverse perinatal outcomes.

The results show that approximately 1.4 percent of women were estimated to have HPV infection during their pregnancy. The prevalence of adverse outcomes in this sample was preterm birth (8.4 percent), preeclampsia (7.5 percent), low birth weight (6.3 percent) and premature rupture of membranes (2.8 percent). Compared to women without HPV infection, HPV infection positive women were much more likely to have had other infections such as chlamydia (9.23 percent vs. 2.12 percent, p-value <.0001), Group B Strep (21.7 percent vs. 10.04 percent, p-value <.0001), and herpes (7.17 percent vs. 1.07 percent, p-value <.0001). After adjusting for other risk factors including other infections, HPV infection was significantly associated with low birth weight (OR: 1.94, 95 percent CI: 1.14-3.30).

In conclusion, the study indicated a potential association between HPV infection and low birth weight. Because pregnant women with HPV infection are at higher risk of other infections, future research may focus on the roles of co-infection in the development of adverse perinatal effects.

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