More HIV-Exposed Uninfected Infants Have Group B Strep

More likely to have late-onset, severe infections than babies born to HIV-uninfected mothers

MONDAY, Aug. 23 (HealthDay News) -- HIV-exposed uninfected (HEU) infants may be more susceptible to invasive group B streptococcal (GBS) infections in terms of incidence and severity than babies born to HIV-uninfected mothers, according to research published online Aug. 23 in Pediatrics.

To examine differences in incidence and presentation of GBS in babies born to HIV-infected and HIV-uninfected mothers, Cristina Epalza, M.D., of the St. Pierre University Hospital in Brussels, Belgium, and colleagues reviewed the charts of all infants seen at their center with invasive GBS who were born between 2001 and 2008.

The researchers found five (1.55 percent) GBS-infected infants born to 322 HIV-infected mothers, compared to 16 (0.08 percent) GBS-infected infants born to HIV-uninfected mothers. The disease tended to be more severe and to have later onset in HEU infants, most of whom had leukopenia at infection onset. Specifically, five of six episodes in HEU infants were late-onset infection, versus two of 16 in the control group, and five of six episodes in HEU infants involved sepsis or sepsis shock, versus 10 of 16 in the control group.

"Our observation of increased susceptibility of HEU infants to GBS infection is an additional piece of evidence, the first from an industrialized country, that HEU infants might be more susceptible to infection than infants who are born to HIV-uninfected mothers. With the generalization of mother-to-child transmission prophylaxis, the number of HEU infants will continue to increase worldwide, and it is crucial to determine what the cause of this increased susceptibility is," the authors write.

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