Febrile rhinovirus illness during pregnancy is associated with low birth weight in Nepal

Erin K. Philpott, Janet A. Englund, Joanne Katz, James Tielsch, Subarna Khatry, Stephen C. LeClerq, Laxman Shrestha, Jane Kuypers, Amalia S. Magaret, Mark C. Steinhoff, Helen Y. Chu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background. Adverse birth outcomes, including low birth weight (LBW), defined as < 2500 grams, small-for-gestational-age (SGA), and prematurity, contribute to 60%-80% of infant mortality worldwide and may be related to infections during pregnancy. The aim of this study was to assess whether febrile human rhinovirus (HRV) illness is associated with adverse birth outcomes. Methods. Active household-based weekly surveillance was performed for respiratory illness episodes in pregnant women as part of a community-based, prospective, randomized trial of maternal influenza immunization in rural Nepal. Rhinovirus (HRV) febrile illness episodes were defined as fever plus cough, sore throat, runny nose, and/or myalgia with HRV detected on mid-nasal swab. Multivariate regression analysis evaluated the association between febrile HRV respiratory illness and adverse birth outcomes. Results. Overall, 96 (3%) of 3693 pregnant women had HRV-positive febrile respiratory illnesses. Infants born to pregnant women with HRV febrile illness had a 1.6-fold increased risk of being LBW compared with those with non-HRV febrile illness (28 of 96 [38%] vs 109 of 458 [24%]; relative risk [RR], 1.6; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.1-2.3). No difference in risk of LBW was observed between infants born to mothers with non-HRV febrile respiratory illness and those without respiratory illness during pregnancy (109 of 458 [24%] vs 552 of 2220 [25%], respectively; RR, 1.0; 95% CI, 0.8-1.2). Conclusions. Febrile illness due to rhinovirus during pregnancy was associated with increased risk of LBW in a rural South Asian population. Interventions to reduce the burden of febrile respiratory illness due to rhinovirus during pregnancy may have a significant impact on LBW and subsequent infant mortality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberofx073
JournalOpen Forum Infectious Diseases
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017


  • Low birth weight
  • Nepal
  • Pregnancy
  • Preterm birth
  • Rhinovirus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Clinical Neurology


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