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AIDS. 2005 Mar 4;19(4):433-7.

Mode of infant feeding and HIV infection in children in a program for prevention of mother-to-child transmission in Uganda.

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  • 1Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy.



To evaluate the impact of different modalities of infant feeding on HIV transmission in children in a prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) program in an urban hospital in Uganda.


HIV-infected pregnant women in the PMTCT program at St Francis Hospital Nsambya, Kampala were offered the chance to participate in the study. Short-course antiretroviral regimens were provided and formula feeding offered free of charge for women choosing not to breastfeed. Mother-infant pairs were followed until 6 months postpartum. HIV status in children was assessed at week 6 and month 6. For the analyses, mother-infant pairs were classified into three groups according to the mode of infant feeding: exclusive formula feeding (EFF), exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) and mixed feeding (MF).


A total of 306 children were enrolled. Transmission rates were 8.9% at week 6 (3.4% in the EFF group, 11.2% in the EBF group, 17.1% in the MF group) and 12.0% at month 6 (3.7% in the EFF group, 16.0% in the EBF group, and 20.4% in the MF group). The EBF and MF groups were associated with a significantly higher risk of HIV transmission than the EFF group. No significant risk difference was observed between the EBF and the MF groups.


HIV transmission rates were significantly lower in formula-fed infants in comparison with both exclusively breastfed and mixed-fed infants. Transmission through breastfeeding seems to occur mainly in the first weeks after delivery.

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