The virus or viruses (human immunodeficiency virus) associated with the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome may be transmitted in utero or perinatally from an infected mother to her baby. Infected adults may remain asymptomatic for months to years, during which time a mother could transmit the virus. It is not known to what degree a mother may transmit the virus perinatally or whether postnatal transmission is possible. We studied a cohort of children whose mothers had been reported to have acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, comparing human immunodeficiency virus-seropositive with seronegative children as well as a cohort of inner city children with similar socioeconomic characteristics whose mothers are well. Three (12%) of 25 children whose mothers have acquired immunodeficiency syndrome were seropositive compared with none of 44 children whose mothers were well. The seropositive children had lower T4A:T8 lymphocyte ratios than children in the other groups. Nine children of affected mothers were young enough to have been born within their mother's incubation period and were seronegative and well. When compared with seronegative children the seropositive children did not have greater contact with their ill mothers, either in types of physical interaction or in length of time lived together. Although this study cannot preclude the possibility of postnatal nonsexual transmission, it does present evidence against it.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Microbiology (medical)
- Infectious Diseases