Study Examines Impact of Breast-Feeding on HIV-1 Viral Loads
"HIV-1 Disease Progression in Breast-Feeding and Formula-Feeding Mothers: A Prospective Two-Year Comparison of T-Cell Subsets, HIV-1 RNA Levels and Mortality," Journal of Infectious Diseases: Phelgona Otieno of the Centre for Clinical Research at the Kenya Medical Research Institute and colleagues monitored 296 HIV-1 seropositive pregnant women in Nairobi, Kenya, from October 2000 through June 2005. All of the women received the short-course antiretroviral treatment zidovudine and standard antenatal care to reduce the risk of mother-to-child HIV transmission. Researchers at one, three, six, nine, 12, 18 and 24 months after delivery measured the women's weight and mid-arm circumference as well as their CD4+ T cell counts and HIV-1 viral loads. Ninety-eight of the women chose to formula feed their infants and 198 chose to breast feed. According to the study, body mass index declined more rapidly in breast-feeding women than in women who formula fed. In addition, HIV-1 viral load and mortality did not differ significantly between the two groups of women, the researchers found. The study concluded that breast-feeding is linked to slight declines in CD4+ T cell counts and reduced BMI in women. HIV-1 viral load and mortality were not higher among the women who breast fed, "suggesting a limited adverse impact of breast-feeding in mothers receiving extended care for HIV-1 infection," according to the researchers (Otieno et al., Journal of Infectious Diseases, January 2007).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.