Contact

Karen Henry
Life Span Institute
785-864-0756

Study finds prenatal anti-HIV meds not linked to children’s language delays

Mon, 08/12/2013

LAWRENCE — Children who were exposed to HIV in the womb whose mothers received anti-HIV medications during pregnancy were no more likely to show language delays by age 2 than HIV-exposed children whose mothers were not treated during pregnancy, according to a study by University of Kansas Distinguished Professor Mabel L. Rice with researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other universities.

The findings allay concerns in the medical community that the typical anti-HIV drug combinations could affect the developing fetal brain in ways that cause language delays.

In both groups, about 25 percent of the children had language delays by age 2, suggesting that the delays were not associated with anti-HIV drugs taken during pregnancy. These combination treatments usually include three or more drugs from at least two drug classes.

For a woman who is HIV-positive and pregnant, recommended combination therapies treat the infection and greatly reduce the chance that the virus will spread to the fetus. Previous studies suggested that the drugs used to treat pregnant women might contribute to language delays in infants and toddlers, even those who remained HIV-negative.

However, the researchers concluded that one drug sometimes used in the combination treatments should be monitored. Children whose mothers received combination therapy containing the drug atazanavir were more likely to have language delays at 1 year of age than were the other children in the study. But these children appeared to catch up to their peers by age 2.

“We continue to investigate the sources of risk for language delays in children exposed to HIV in the womb. In clinical practice it is prudent to monitor these children for signs of language delay," said Rice.

The researchers evaluated the language skills of nearly 800 children for the study that is part of a national collaboration between several NIH institutes and universities called the Pediatric HIV/AIDS Cohort Study or PHACS. PHACS began in 2005 to address critical pediatric HIV issues on the long-term safety of fetal and infant exposure to antiretroviral therapy and the effects of HIV infection acquired in womb in adolescents.

Rice, the Fred and Virginia Merrill Distinguished Professor of Advanced Studies at KU, was the lead investigator in a previous PHACS study that found that children exposed to HIV at birth are at risk for language impairments.

The study was published online in the Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal.

Besides the University of Kansas, the Harvard School of Public Health, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York City; Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago; Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles; and Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, collaborated with the National Institutes of Health on the study.



"Even on an ordinary Saturday, when I am pressed for time to complete the (at times) overwhelming amount of schoolwork I have, there are moments so extraordinary — like looking up at the sun through the mosaic of colored leaves on campus — that remind me why I love what I do and why I love KU." - Sam Henkin, first-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Geography, University of Kansas #exploreKU

The University of Kansas — Shaping those who shape the world Their feats are outstanding, extraordinary — even mythical. They are known as heroes. Discoverers. Innovators. Legends. But before they began shaping the world, they were each shaped themselves on a legendary Hill known as Mount Oread. And they all share one name that you should share too: Jayhawk. (See notable alumni at http://bit.ly/1qAGSaj)


One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
26 prestigious Rhodes Scholars — more than all other Kansas colleges combined
Nearly $290 million in financial aid annually
1 of 9 public universities with outstanding study abroad programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
46 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
—ALA
$260.5 million in externally funded research expenditures
23rd nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets," Military Times