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J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2007 May 1;45(1):43-51.

Hematologic effects of maternal antiretroviral therapy and transmission prophylaxis in HIV-1-exposed uninfected newborn infants.

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  • 1Charité, Department of Pediatric Pneumology and Immunology, University Medicine Berlin, Berlin, Germany.



A prospective observational study to investigate hematologic alterations during the first 3 months of life in HIV-exposed uninfected infants subjected to antiretroviral medication before and after birth.


Two hundred twenty-one consecutive uninfected infants born to HIV-positive mothers on antiretroviral medication during pregnancy were included. Perinatal transmission prophylaxis comprised zidovudine (ZDV) administered intravenously intrapartum and 10 days after birth. Blood counts and differentials were determined at birth and at 2, 4, 6, and 12 weeks of age, and hematologic toxicity was graded according to pediatric toxicity scales. Data were analyzed according to the kind of prenatal medication (ZDV alone or with another nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor [NRTI] vs. highly active antiretroviral therapy [HAART]).


Median hemoglobin was significantly lower in HAART-exposed newborns from birth (P = 0.004) until day 28. During follow-up, 119 (53.8%) infants had anemia grade 2 or higher on at least 1 occasion; 16 (7.2%) received red blood cell transfusion at 23 (range: 1-56) days of age. Neutropenia grade 2 or higher occurred in 106 (48.0%) infants at least once; 8 infants had staphylococcal infections, and 2 infections were severe. After adjustment for possible confounders (prematurity, birth weight, ethnicity, gender, duration of maternal antiretroviral therapy, maternal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stage, and maternal illicit drug use), HAART exposure was the only independent risk factor for anemia (odds ratio [OR] = 2.22, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.06 to 4.64; P = 0.034) and neutropenia (OR = 2.15, CI: 1.02 to 4.55; P = 0.045).


Antiretroviral transmission prophylaxis is associated with significant anemia and neutropenia in HIV-uninfected infants during the first 3 months of life. Anemia was more profound in HAART-exposed infants.

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