Babies Who Escape HIV Face Other Death Risks: Study
March 2, 2011
Infants who are spared HIV from their infected mothers have a four-fold risk of dying from other infectious diseases during their first year, a new study finds.
In a group of 109 HIV-infected and uninfected mothers and their babies in Khayelitsha, South Africa, researchers compared the antibody levels of HIV-exposed but uninfected infants to those who were unexposed to HIV. The uninfected, HIV-exposed babies were shown to have lower levels of antibodies to whooping cough, tetanus, and pneumococcus infections -- all of which can be preventable through vaccination. However, these vaccines are not always available in developing countries.
"These infants and children represent a vulnerable group with increased rates of lower respiratory tract infection and meningitis and up to four-fold higher mortality in the first year of life," the study authors said. "Altered immune responses might contribute to the high morbidity and mortality observed in HIV-exposed uninfected infants."
While the number of mother-to-baby HIV infections has dropped dramatically during the past decade thanks to preventive medicines, infectious diseases remain a major killer of children under age five globally. The authors called for more studies of the possible link between lower antibodies and higher death rates, and for improved vaccine delivery in poor countries.
"Among South African infants, antenatal HIV exposure was associated with lower specific antibody responses in exposed uninfected infants compared with unexposed infants at birth, but with robust responses following routine vaccination," the researchers concluded.
The study, "Maternal HIV Infection and Antibody Responses Against Vaccine-Preventable Diseases in Uninfected Infants," was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (2011;305(6):576-584).
Agence France Presse
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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