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Antenatal HIV Exposure Tied to Lower Infant Antibodies

Last Updated: February 08, 2011.

Infants exposed to HIV in the womb, but not infected at birth, have lower infant-specific antibody responses against some diseases, compared to infants not exposed to HIV, according to a study published in the Feb. 9 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

TUESDAY, Feb. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Infants exposed to HIV in the womb, but not infected at birth, have lower infant-specific antibody responses against some diseases, compared to infants not exposed to HIV, according to a study published in the Feb. 9 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Christine E. Jones, B.M.B.S., of the Imperial College London, and colleagues investigated the association of maternal HIV infection with maternal- and infant-specific antibody levels of Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), pneumococcus, Bordetella pertussis antigens, tetanus toxoid, and hepatitis B surface antigen. Between March 2009 and April 2010, antibody levels were measured in HIV-infected and uninfected women and their infants at birth and at 16 weeks, in Khayelitsha, South Africa.

The researchers found that, at birth, HIV-exposed uninfected infants had significantly lower levels of specific antibodies to Hib, pertussis, pneumococcus, and tetanus than did unexposed infants. HIV-exposed uninfected infants had stronger responses following vaccination compared to unexposed infants, with significantly higher antibody responses to pertussis and pneumococcus. HIV-infected women had significantly lower specific antibody levels to Hib and pneumococcus compared to uninfected women; whereas, there were no significant differences in levels of antipertussis or antitetanus antibodies.

"Our data highlight the need for larger prospective studies to determine whether the lower antibody levels in HIV-exposed infants at birth translate into increased morbidity from vaccine-preventable infections," the authors write.

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