Promising drug for children with AIDS.
Ongoing analysis of the treatment of AIDS-infected children with the drug zidovudine (AZT), described at a National Institute of Mental Health seminar last week, brings encouraging news to a tragic situation.
Investigators recently reported substantial IQ gains for 21 youngsters infected with the AIDS virus given AZT for six months through a continuous transfusion pump strapped to their backs (SN:10/8/88, p.231). Now one of the scientists, Pim Brouwers of the National Cancer Institute, says IQ increased at the same rate for children with and without evidence of brain disease, although the latter group had higher scores. Furthermore, while children infected with AIDS in utero had lower IQs than those infected through blood transfusions, intelligence scores increased proportionally in these two groups over the six months.
Among children older than 6 years. Brouwers says, the biggest improvement was on performance IQ (picture completion and other tests of perception and motor ability).
Parental reports of the childrens' ability to function independently and communicate with others also revealed significant improvement over the study period.
"Whatever way we split the data, we see robust positive effects of continuous infusion AZT therapy," Brouwers says.
It appears AIDS interferes with children's ability to retrieve and express much of what they learn on a day-to-day basis, he adds.
Infants and children account for 2 percent of the U.S. AIDS cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. The incidence of childhood AIDS is rising. Brouwers points out, with at least 3,000 new cases expected by 1991.