February 28, 2003
CDC describes the cases of eight women living in Puerto Rico who acquired HIV from their mothers in the womb -- known as perinatal infection -- and reported 10 pregnancies between August 1998 and May 2002. As of this week, none of the seven babies born to these mothers had developed HIV, the researchers wrote. All of the babies received preventive drug treatment after delivery; four of the women consistently took HIV drugs while pregnant. Two of the 10 pregnancies ended in abortion, while the third ended in miscarriage. The full report, "Pregnancy in Perinatally HIV-Infected Adolescents and Young Adults -- Puerto Rico, 2002," was published in CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (2003;28:149-151).
These findings -- the first to report pregnancies among women born HIV-positive -- represent a "landmark" in the HIV epidemic, said study author Dr. Michelle McConnell of CDC. "They were born with HIV, and now they are not only alive, but healthy enough to have their own children," McConnell said. And a large number of perinatally infected children are likely not far behind, she added. "I think this is going to happen more and more," McConnell said.
During the study, CDC researchers compared eight perinatally infected women to eight perinatally infected women who had never conceived. Women who had conceived had first done so at ages 13-19. Relative to other perinatally infected women who had not become pregnant, those who conceived tended to learn about their HIV status at a later age and were less likely to consistently use condoms when having sex. Half of the women who conceived were first told of their infection at age 13 or older, while half of those who had not become pregnant were told at age 12 or younger.
Although the report is based on information from only a handful of young girls, the authors noted that the findings suggest that parents of HIV-positive kids should inform their children about their health at an early age. Teens and young adults with perinatal infection also need to discuss sexual health before they begin to have sex, the authors added.