Neurodevelopmental effects of ante-partum and post-partum antiretroviral exposure in HIV-exposed and uninfected children versus HIV-unexposed and uninfected children in Uganda and Malawi: a prospective cohort study

July 15, 2019
Authors: Dr. Michael Boivin, et al
Organization: The Lancet HIV

The effect of prolonged antiretroviral therapy (ART) exposure on newborn neurological development is a major concern for parents and healthcare workers.

Findings, from a prospective cohort study in Uganda and Malawi show that in the first five years of life the neurological development of HIV-exposed but uninfected infants, exposed to maternal antiretrovirals before and after birth and throughout breastfeeding, is comparable to that of HIV-unexposed uninfected infants from similar socio-economic backgrounds.

The public health implications  are that policymakers can be reassured that the antiretrovirals they advocate do no neurodevelopmental harm to the uninfected infant. These data further support lifelong ART: antiretrovirals are good for the mother’s health, prevent HIV transmission to the infant and cause no harm to the infant in the medium term. Healthcare workers can reassure mothers on ART that prolonged breastfeeding is scientifically sound and will not harm the infant.

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