Neurodevelopmental status of HIV-exposed but uninfected children: A pilot study
Introduction. HIV affects children both directly and indirectly, with evidence of increased infectious mortality and morbidity in the HIV-exposed but uninfected (HEU) infant. There is little published research on neurodevelopmental outcome of HEU infants in Africa. Following the introduction of successful prevention of mother-to-child transmission programmes, it has become important to determine whether differences exist between HEU infants and infants born to HIV-negative mothers in order to guide current management policies of this rapidly growing group of infants. Objectives. To compare the developmental outcome of infants exposed to HIV in utero who remained uninfected (HEU) with that of infants unexposed to HIV in utero (HUU). Methodology. This was a prospective, blinded, hospital-based study. Infants aged between 17 and 19 months were assessed on the Griffiths Mental Developmental Scales (GMDS). Birth history, previous hospitalisation, maternal and infant characteristics, antiretroviral exposure, anthropometric measurements and abnormal clinical findings were documented. Results. Of the original 55 infants enrolled at 2 weeks of age, 37 (17 HEU and 20 HUU) underwent neurological and developmental assessment. There were no significant differences between the groups with regard to the GMDS general quotient or other subscales, apart from the Personal/social subscale, where the HEU group performed significantly more poorly than the HUU participants (p=0.026). This difference is probably a result of cultural differences between the groups, as 76% of HEU and only 15% of HUU participants were of Xhosa origin. Discussion. There was no difference in neurodevelopmental outcome at 18 months between the HEU and HUU groups.