South African children’s long-term health and well-being is jeopardized during their mothers’ pregnancies by the intersecting epidemics of HIV, alcohol use, low birth weight (LBW; <2,500 g) related to poor nutrition, and depressed mood. This research examines these overlapping risk factors among 1,145 pregnant Xhosa women living in 24 township neighborhoods in Cape Town, South Africa.

Results revealed that 66 % of pregnant women experienced at least one risk factor. In descending order of prevalence, 37 % reported depressed mood, 29 % were HIV+, 25 % used alcohol prior to knowing that they were pregnant, and 15 % had a previous childbirth with a LBW infant. Approximately 27 % of women had more than one risk factor: depressed mood was significantly associated with alcohol use and LBW, with a trend to significance with HIV+. In addition, alcohol use was significantly related to HIV+. These results suggest the importance of intervening across multiple risks to maternal and child health, and particularly with depression and alcohol use, to positively impact multiple maternal and infant outcomes.

Authors: Mark Tomlinson, PhD, (Department of Psychology, Stellenbosch University, Matieland, Stellenbosch, South Africa), Mary O’Connor (Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, Semel Institute, University of California at Los Angeles), Ingrid Le Roux, MD, (Philani Maternal, Child Health and Nutrition Programme, Elonwabeni, Cape Town, South Africa), Jacqueline Stewart (Department of Psychology, Stellenbosch University, Matieland, Stellenbosch, South Africa). Nokwanele Mbewu (Philani Maternal, Child Health and Nutrition Programme, Elonwabeni, Cape Town, South Africa), Jessica Harwood (Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, Semel Institute, University of California at Los Angeles), and Mary Jane Rotheram-Borus, PhD (Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, Semel Institute, University of California at Los Angeles)

To access the full report, please contact svetlana@ilifalabantwana.co.za or markt@sun.ac.za.

 

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