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Low CD4 count in mothers means greater risk for HIV-negative babies.

Advanced maternal HIV infection is associated with increased rates of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and faster disease progression in infected infants. Little is known about rates of illness and death among the HIV-uninfected infants of HIV-positive mothers. It is believed that HIV exposure, even if it does not lead to transmission, might negatively impact upon an infant's health. Factors that generally have a detrimental effect on an infant's health such as lack of breastfeeding, unhygienic living conditions and exposure to malaria are believed to affect infants of HIV-positive mothers to a greater degree. A study of 620 mother-infant pairs in Lusaka, Zambia, reported that HIV-negative infants whose mothers have advanced HIV disease have an increased risk of hospitalisation and death within the first few months of life. A maternal CD4 count below 350, maternal haemoglobin level below 10g/dl and birthweight below 2500g were significantly associated with infant mortality within four months. The risk of infant death was reduced the higher the maternal CD4 cell count. High maternal viral load was also associated with lower infant weight at month four. Early infant mortality and severe morbidity among HIV-uninfected infants born to HIV-infected mothers were more than double when CD4 cell counts were low. The authors conclude that even the complete eradication of vertical HIV transmission will not counter the negative impact of HIV infection on the health of infants. (1)

(1.) Carter M. Low CD4 cells in mums means greater risk of illness and death in their HIV-negative babies. Aidsmap News. 7 November 2005. At: <www.>.
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Title Annotation:cluster of differentiation; human immunodeficiency virus
Publication:Reproductive Health Matters
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2006
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Next Article:Impact of breastfeeding on the health of HIV-positive mothers and their children in sub-Saharan Africa.

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