Relation Of The Course Of HIV Infection In Children To The Severity Of The Disease In Their Mothers At Delivery

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Among infants with maternally transmitted human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, there are two patterns of disease progression. In about a fifth of these infants there is a rapid progression to profound immunodeficiency, whereas in the majority the disease progresses much more slowly.


We studied the clinical and biologic characteristics of the mothers of infants infected with HIV type 1 (HIV-1) in the French Prospective Multicenter Cohort. Infection in the children was confirmed by serologic tests at the age of 18 months or by death from the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome at an earlier age. Only the 162 infected infants who could be followed for at least 18 months or until death were included in the analysis.


The risk of opportunistic infections or encephalopathy in the first 18 months was 50 percent in the infants of mothers with class IV disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classification, and 14 percent in the infants of mothers with class II or III disease (relative risk, 3.6; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.8 to 7.3; P<0.002). Forty-four percent of the former infants and 9 percent of the latter died before 18 months (relative risk, 4.7; 95 percent confidence interval, 2.1 to 10.4; P<0.002). The risk of death correlated inversely with the mother's CD4+ cell count and directly with her HIV-1 p24 antigen level at delivery. There was also a direct correlation between the mother's CD4+ cell count and that of the infant at one, three, and nine months of age (correlation coefficient at nine months [n = 44], 0.48; P<0.002). HIV-1 p24 antigen was detected more often in the infants whose mothers also had the antigen.


In infants whose HIV infection is maternally acquired, the rate of disease progression varies directly with the severity of the disease in the mother at the time of delivery. (N Engl J Med 1994;330:308-12.)

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