Background: Perinatally HIV-exposed but uninfected (HEU) children have elevated risk of late language emergence at 1 year of age, with possible links to in utero antiretroviral (ARV) exposure. We investigated possible risks for speech impairments (SIs) and language impairments (LI) in preschool monolingual HEU children in the United States.
Methods: Speech and language assessments were conducted as part of the Pediatric HIV/AIDS Cohort Study Surveillance Monitoring of ART Toxicities study at ages 3 (N = 208) and 5 (N = 429) years. Domains of speech, overall language, vocabulary and grammar were assessed. SI and LI were defined by standardized scores <15th percentile and categorized as primary (normal nonverbal IQ ≥ 85 without hearing loss) and concomitant (low nonverbal IQ and/or presence of hearing loss). Logistic regression models were used to estimate odds of SI and LI for different ARV exposures, adjusted for confounding variables.
Results: The risk for language impairments in HEU children was higher than population norms; risk for SIs was not elevated. Risk factors for impairments included male sex, black race and other socioeconomic measures, although these varied by age, primary (P) versus concomitant (C) impairment and by speech or language measure. Adjusted logistic regression models revealed lower and increased risk for specific ARVs. Tenofovir exposure was associated with increased risk for SI at 3 years of age but was associated with decreased risk for concomitant language impairment at 5 years of age.
Conclusions: Further investigation of combination ARV exposure and speech/language impairment among preschool children is needed to confirm associations.