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J Pediatr. 1997 Dec;131(6):851-6.

Incidence of premature birth and neonatal respiratory disease in infants of HIV-positive mothers. The Pediatric Pulmonary and Cardiovascular Complications of Vertically Transmitted Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection Study Group.

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  • 1Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA.



We sought to determine the prematurity rate in infants of HIV-positive mothers and to characterize the incidence and severity of neonatal respiratory disease in this population.


From 1990 to 1994, 600 live-born infants of HIV-infected mothers were enrolled prenatally (73%) or postnatally (27%) from five U.S. centers. Logistic regression was used to determine the association of HIV status in the infant with prematurity (< or = 37 weeks), low birth weight (< or = 2.5 kg), and very low birth weight (< or = 1.5 kg) rates. The incidence of respiratory distress syndrome (RDS), bronchopulmonary dysplasia, meconium aspiration syndrome, and neonatal pneumonia was compared with anticipated rates for gestational age and birth weight.


Very high rates of prematurity (19%), low birth weight (18.3%), and very low birth weight (3.3%) were found in the infants of HIV-positive mothers; and HIV infection in the infant was associated with younger gestational age. The overall incidence of RDS was 3% (17/600), which coincided with the anticipated rate, after adjusting for prematurity and birth weight. Only five infants (all < or = 1.5 kg) had bronchopulmonary dysplasia, and none required assisted ventilation beyond 14 days. Three term infants had mild meconium aspiration syndrome, and there were no cases of documented neonatal pneumonia.


Infants born to HIV-positive mothers exhibited high prematurity and low birth weight rates, and the odds of prematurity were higher in infants who were infected with HIV. Despite the high incidence of prematurity and perinatal risk of this population, incidence and severity of neonatal respiratory disease were not higher than would be expected from available neonatal data in populations not exposed to HIV.

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