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Does in utero HIV exposure and the early nutritional environment influence infant development and immune outcomes? Findings from a pilot study in Pretoria, South Africa

White, M.
Feucht, U.D.
Duffley, E.
Molokoane, F.
Durandt, C.
Cassol, E.
Rossouw, T.
Connor, K.L.
Abstract
Background: As mother-to-child transmission of HIV decreases, and the population of infants who are born HIV-exposed, but uninfected (HEU) continues to rise, there is a growing need to understand the development and health outcomes of infants who are HEU to ensure that they have the healthiest start to life. Methods: In a prospective cohort pilot study at Kalafong Hospital, Pretoria, South Africa, we aimed to determine if we could recruit new mothers living with HIV on antiretrovirals (ART; n = 20) and not on ART (n = 20) and new mothers without HIV (n = 20) through our clinics to study the effects of HEU on growth and immune- and neurodevelopment in infants in early life, and test the hypothesis that infants who were HEU would have poorer health outcomes compared to infants who were HIV-unexposed, uninfected (HUU). We also undertook exploratory analyses to investigate relationships between the early nutritional environment, food insecurity and infant development. Infant growth, neurodevelopment (Guide for Monitoring Child Development [GMCD]) and levels of monocyte subsets (CD14, CD16 and CCR2 expression [flow cytometry]) were measured in infants at birth and 12 weeks (range 8-16 weeks). Results: We recruited 33 women living with HIV on ART and 22 women living without HIV within 4 days of delivery from June to December 2016. Twenty-one women living with HIV and 10 without HIV returned for a follow-up appointment at 12 weeks postpartum. The high mobility of this population presented major challenges to participant retention. Preliminary analyses revealed lower head circumference and elevated CCR2+ (% and median fluorescence intensity) on monocytes at birth among infants who were HEU compared to HUU. Maternal reports of food insecurity were associated with lower maternal nutrient intakes at 12 weeks postpartum and increased risk of stunting at birth for infants who were HEU, but not infants who were HUU. Conclusions: Our small feasibility pilot study suggests that HEU may adversely affect infant development, and further, infants who are HEU may be even more vulnerable to the programming effects of suboptimal nutrition in utero and postnatally. This pilot and preliminary analyses have been used to inform our research questions and protocol in our ongoing, full-scale study.
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Date
2020-12-11
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Publisher
BMC
Research Projects
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Keywords
Food security , Growth , HIV , Inflammation , Neurodevelopment , Nutrition , Pilot study
Citation
White M, Feucht UD, Duffley E, Molokoane F, Durandt C, Cassol E, Rossouw T, Connor KL. Does in utero HIV exposure and the early nutritional environment influence infant development and immune outcomes? Findings from a pilot study in Pretoria, South Africa. Pilot Feasibility Stud. 2020 Dec 11;6(1):192. doi: 10.1186/s40814-020-00725-8
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