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AZT in pregnancy
Jun 12, 2011

Hi. I have not been on ARV yet, but I am planning to start it, as I wish to become pregnant in the near future. I have been researching about HIV medication in pregnancy; doctors say it is quite safe for the baby (not proven otherwise); however, I read some quite shcking articles about AZT causing bith defects, proven (articles such as They are saying that there are researches that p;roved AZT causes mutations and birth defects. Please tell me: are there such studies? What is the truth? I do not know what to think anymore. Are they making it up or are they relying their claims on something real? Also, please tell me your opinion abot ART during the first trimester of pregnancy. Thank you very muck, Maria.

Response from Dr. Young

Hello Maria and thanks for your post.

Zidovudine (ZDV, AZT) is recommended by all national and international medical guidelines for the prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV. This recommendation is based on many years of close scientific scrutiny and evaluation- a review process that's called evidence-based medicine. A recent scientific review article published in the reputable Journal of Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy concluded "Prospective data and large cohort studies have not found any evidence that antiretroviral therapy significantly increases the risk of congenital malformation". Other studies will note that HIV medications have been associated with a somewhat increased risk of pre-term labor and that medications are associated with side effects among pregnant women-- areas of ongoing concern and evaluation.

When reviewing web-based literature, consider your sources carefully. Maria Papagiannidou, the author of your citation, also supports the ideas like HIV doesn't cause AIDS and that the HIV isn't contagious. Both of these ideas have been refuted by independently conducted studies from around the world.

Countries often issue their own recommendations about how best to care for pregnant HIV+ women. Here is a link to the United States'Department of Health and Human Services' Recommendations for Use of Antiretroviral Drugs in Pregnant HIV-1-Infected Women for Maternal Health and Interventions to Reduce Perinatal HIV Transmission in the United States. The document, though technical, is extensively referenced.

A result of the use of antiretroviral medications during pregnancy has been the dramatic reduction in the rates of children born with HIV in all parts of the world where people have access to these medications- including here in Colorado, across the US and Europe as well as in many parts of the developing world.

I hope that his is helpful and wish you health.


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