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Vaginal HPV Detected in About 40 Percent of Pregnant Women

Perinatal transmission occurred infrequently; no infections detected at birth persisted at age 6 months

By Elana Gotkine HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, May 26, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Vaginal human papillomavirus (HPV) is detected in about 40 percent of pregnant women, but perinatal transmission occurs infrequently, according to a study published online May 22 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Pranamika Khayargoli, from the Université de Montréal, and colleagues examined the prevalence of HPV in pregnant women and its risk for transmission and persistence in newborns in a prospective cohort study. Participants included 1,050 pregnant women aged at least 18 years and at 14 weeks of gestation or earlier, recruited from three academic hospitals.

The researchers found that the prevalence of HPV was 40.3 percent in the cohort of pregnant women at recruitment. Overall, 66.4 percent of the 422 HPV-positive women harbored at least one high-risk genotype and 45.0 percent had coinfection with multiple genotypes. In 10.7 percent of placentas, HPV was detected, but positive biopsies on the fetal side under the amniotic membrane were positive in 3.9 percent. Overall, neonatal detection at birth and/or at three months was 7.2 percent, with the conjunctiva the most frequent site of infection (3.2 percent), followed by the mouth, the genital area, and the pharynx (2.9, 2.7, and 0.8 percent, respectively). All HPV detected in children at birth was cleared before 6 months of age.

“The fact that HPV was detected in 3.9 percent of biopsies performed under the membrane of the fetal side of the placenta suggests that although infrequent, true placental infection is possible,” the authors write. “Findings suggest that HPV can, although rarely, be detected in the newborn (7 percent in our study).”

Two authors disclosed ties to the biopharmaceutical industry.

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