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Dev Med Child Neurol. 2011 Nov;53(11):1046-52. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8749.2011.04126.x.

Neurodevelopmental impairment among infants born to mothers infected with human immunodeficiency virus and uninfected mothers from three peri-urban primary care clinics in Harare, Zimbabwe.

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Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Zimbabwe, Harare, Zimbabwe.



The aim of this article is to document the risk of neurodevelopmental impairment (NDI) among infants enrolled in a programme for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) in Zimbabwe using the Bayley Infant Neurodevelopmental Screener (BINS).


We prospectively followed up infants at three primary care clinics in Harare, Zimbabwe. Neurodevelopmental assessments using the BINS were conducted during the first 12 months of life. NDI risk category and associated risk factors were examined.


Of the 598 infants assessed, 305 (51%) were female and 293 (49%) were male. Sixty-five infants (11%) were infected with HIV, 188 (31%) were exposed but uninfected, 287 (48%) were unexposed, and 58 (10%) were of unknown status. The prevalence of a high risk of NDI was 9.4% (95% confidence interval [CI] 7.1-11.1%): 9.2% in males and 9.6% in females. Of the 598 infants, 549 (92%) had ever been breastfed, 49% of whom had mothers infected with HIV. The risk of NDI was higher among infants infected early with HIV, i.e. by 3 months of age (p value <0.001). The NDI high-risk category included twice as many infants infected with HIV as uninfected infants (odds ratio [OR] 2.1; 95% CI 1.0-4.3). After adjusting for other factors, head circumference and family financial subsistence remained risk factors for NDI with an OR of 2.22 (1.04-4.82) and 2.55 (1.02-6.36) respectively.


The background prevalence of high-risk NDI category of 9.4% across groups seems high but is similar to that reported previously in developing countries. Integration of an early infant neurodevelopmental screening programme into child HIV management protocols will assist in the early referral of children exposed to HIV.

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