Despite scientists claiming to be able to see a plausible end for HIV, that won’t be coming any time soon. In the meantime, there are still millions of people suffering from the illness. In their attempt to live lives as close to normal as possible, some HIV victims are trying to have children. And in order to prevent the infection of the infant, they have to be administered medicine. According to a new research from Harvard, infant development issues can be caused by HIV drug.
Atazanavir and infant development
Previous studies have shown the drug to cause some developmental issues in infants, but the effects were deemed too low to matter. The new study, however, showed that the medicine could be more dangerous than previously thought.
Generally used as part of an anti-retroviral treatment to treat HIV patients, Atazanavir is also of great use in reducing the transmitability of the disease. This makes it the ideal candidate to be used during birth, so as not to have the child infected by the mother’s HIV.
There are several other treatment variants, so mothers suffering from AIDS won’t be left completely without options when delivering their infants. However, with Atanazavir being one of the most used antiretroviral medications, we are apt to see at least some complications.
The Harvard study
After their previous showed no significant results, a team from Harvard decided to perform another study, this time using a much larger number of subjects. A total of 917 women were recruited for the research, 167 being administered Atazanavir, while the rest weren’t.
As soon as the infants turned one year old, the team analyzed their cognitive development. The results were quite concerning.
The linguistic and socio-emotional development of children whose mothers took the medication was noticeably lower than for the non-anti-retroviral treatment children. Interestingly, the socio-emotional scores were lower for the children whose mothers had the drug administered during the second or third trimester, while the first trimester seemed safe.
Meanwhile language scores were diminished regardless of the time of exposure. Adaptive behavioral, cognitive, and motor functions were also found to be developing slower in the medication children no matter of the time of exposure.
Despite the score differences being small enough to not have any large-scale clinical implications, it’s still another risk to the development and quality of life of these often unfortunate children. Additionally, mothers informed of the developmental issues might choose to go with a different treatment option.
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