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. aidsmap.com>.