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Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most prevalent genital infection, especially in young women of reproductive age. In vitro and animal model experiments provide compelling evidence of the harmful effect of HPV on pregnancy outcomes, but results from epidemiologic studies are inconclusive. We aim to determine the strength of the relationship between adverse pregnancy outcomes (APO) and HPV infection and assess its consistency across studies, by systematically reviewing the literature.
The search strategy has been developed on the basis of the PICOS framework: Population (pregnant women); Exposure (HVP infection confirmed by HPV testing); Comparator (pregnant women without HPV infection); Outcomes (miscarriage, spontaneous preterm birth, low birth weight, preterm premature rupture of membranes, pregnancy-induced hypertensive disorders and intrauterine growth restriction) and Study design (observational studies). We will search three information sources: (1) electronic databases (MEDLINE, EMBASE, and EBM Reviews databases); (2) Grey literature (Google Scholar and Web of Science conference proceedings); and (3) citing and cited articles of included studies. Two reviewers (JN, NZ) will independently and in duplicate screen identified articles, select eligible studies, and extract data. Discrepancies will be resolved by consensus and otherwise by discussion with the other authors (MHM, HT). Quality of included studies will be assessed using the Effective Public Health Practice Project (EPHPP) Quality Assessment Tool for Quantitative Studies. We will narratively synthesize extracted data whether meta-analysis is conducted or not. Meta-analysis of each outcome will be performed, and where appropriate, an average measure of association will be computed. We will use the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) approach to assess and grade the strength of confidence in cumulative estimate.
Comprehensive and high-quality evidence of a negative effect of HPV on pregnancy outcomes might be an additional motivation for HPV vaccination. Absence of such relationship could dispel anxiety and reassure HPV-infected pregnant women and clinicians. Findings of a poor level of confidence will allow identification of current knowledge gaps on HPV-pregnancy outcome relationship that need further research.
Systematic review registration