HIV drug that can adversely affect infant development identified

New York, Feb 23 (IANS) An anti-retroviral (ARV) drug sometimes included in treatments to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission during pregnancy may have adverse effects on infant development, new research has found.

The researchers found that one-year-olds whose mothers took the drug atazanavir during pregnancy have slightly reduced scores for language and social-emotional development, compared to ARV regimens not containing atazanavir.

The findings were detailed in the journal AIDS, official journal of the International AIDS Society.

“These results may be useful in treatment planning for women with HIV infection,” the study said.

The researchers analysed data on 917 infants who were born to HIV-positive mothers but did not acquire HIV infection.

As recommended by current US and European guidelines, all mothers took ARV therapy during pregnancy to reduce the risk of transmitting HIV.

At around one year old, the infants were assessed on a standard test of infant development.

The results showed language development scores were lower for infants whose mothers received atazanavir.

Scores for social-emotional development were also lower for infants whose mothers took atazanavir.

These differences “may not have large clinical implications, but they add another risk to the constellation of existing biological and socio-environmental risk factors to which these children are often exposed,” said one of the researchers Ellen Caniglia from Harvard T.J. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, US.

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