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HIV Drugs Used Among Pregnant Women May Affect Baby

Update Date: Feb 24, 2016 11:16 AM EST

According to a recently published study featured in the medical journal AIDS, Harvard-led researchers link antiretroviral (ARV) drug atazanavir to a number of development-related problems among infants. Atazanavir is a protease inhibitor drug used as a treatment for HIV positives as well as reduce the likelihood of patients transmitting the virus.

The study involved a careful assessment of more than 900 babies born to HIV-positive mothers but were not carriers of AIDS-causing virus as the patients were already taking ARV while in their pregnancy.

The babies were then subjected to a standard test of development to measure their linguistic faculty and psychosocial abilities.

Researchers found that 167 babies whose mothers took the drug while in their pregnancy suffer from lower linguistic and social development skills than the 750 infants whose mother did not as reported by HealthDay.

"In utero exposure to atazanavir-containing regimens compared to non-atazanavir-containing regimens may adversely affect language and social-emotional development in PHEU infants during the first year of life, but the absolute difference is small," said researcher Ellen Caniglia from Harvard T.J. Chan School of Public Health in Boston as quoted saying by Tech Times.

Although statistical difference between the two groups does not have significant clinical implications, the results are nevertheless important as drug treatments contribute to the existing biological and socio-environment risk factors that HIV-positive mothers already face.

"[The differences] may not have large clinical implications, but they add another risk to the constellation of existing biological and socio-environmental risk factors to which these children are often exposed," said Caniglia as quoted saying by Business Standard.

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