In order to gain new insights into the risk factors influencing human-T-cell-leukemia/lymphoma-virus-type-I (HTLV-I) mother-to-child transmission, a retrospective study of HTLV-I infection among children born to HTLV-I-seropositive women was carried out in a highly HTLV-I-endemic population of African origin living in French Guyana. The study covered 81 HTLV-I-seropositive mothers and their 216 children aged between 18 months old and 12 years old. All plasma samples were tested for the presence of HTLV-I antibodies by ELISA, immunofluorescence assay and Western blot. HTLV-I provirus was detected, in the DNA extracted from peripheral-blood mononuclear cells, by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) using primers specific for 3 different HTLV-I genomic regions (LTR, gag and pX) and quantified by a competitive PCR assay. Out of the 216 children, 21 were found to be HTLV-I-seropositive, giving a crude HTLV-I transmission rate of 9.7%, while among the 180 breast-fed children 10.6% were HTLV-I-seropositive. Perfect concordance between serological and PCR results was observed, and none of the 195 HTLV-I-negative children was found HTLV-I-positive by PCR. In conditional (by family) logistic-regression models, HTLV-I seropositivity in children was associated with an elevated maternal anti-HTLV-I-antibody titer (OR 2.2, p = 0.0013), a high maternal HTLV-I proviral load (OR 2.6, p = 0.033) and child's gender, girls being more frequently HTLV-I-infected than boys: OR 3.6, p = 0.0077 in the model including maternal anti-HTLV-I-antibody titer and OR 4.1, p = 0.002 in the model including the maternal HTLV-I proviral load.
Copyright 1999 Wiley-Liss, Inc.