Background and methods: Differences in newborn outcome measures for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1-infected and HIV-1-exposed but uninfected infants have been found in several studies, but not in others. Eighty-four infected and 248 uninfected children born to HIV-1-seropositive mothers followed prospectively in a multicenter, perinatal HIV-1 transmission cohort study were compared for differences in maternal demographics, health status, and newborn outcome measures, including delivery complications, physical examination findings, neonatal complications, and laboratory results.
Results: Mothers of HIV-1-infected infants were more likely than those of uninfected infants to have acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) diagnosed through 2 weeks postpartum (21% vs 11%, P = .04); the transmission rate for the 38 women with AIDs was 37% compared with 22% for the 245 women without AIDS. Two of 27 (7%) women receiving zidovudine during pregnancy had infected infants compared with 73 (27%) of 275 women who did not receive zidovudine (P = .033). Mean gestational age was significantly lower among HIV-1-infected (37 weeks) than among uninfected infants (38 weeks; P < .001). Infected infants had significantly higher rates of prematurity (gestational age less than 37 weeks) (33% vs 19%, P = .01) and extreme prematurity (gestational age less than 34 weeks) (18% vs 6%, P = .001) than uninfected infants. Infection was associated with lower birth weight (2533 g vs 2862 g, P < .001) and smaller head circumference (32.0 cm vs 33.1 cm, P = .001). HIV-1-infected infants were significantly more likely to be small for gestational age (26% vs 16%, P = .04) and low birth weight (less than 2500 g) (45% vs 29%, P = .006) than infants who were uninfected. Twenty-two (26%) HIV-1-infected children died during a median follow-up of 27.6 months (range 1.9 to 98.3 months). Prematurity was predictive of survival: by Kaplan-Meier, an estimated 55% (95% confidence interval, 31% to 72%) of preterm infected children survived to 24 months compared with 84% (95% confidence interval, 70% to 92%) of full-term infected children (P = .005).
Conclusion: Infants born to women with AIDS are at higher risk for HIV-1 infection than are infants born to HIV-1-infected women with AIDS not yet diagnosed. Women receiving zidovudine appear less likely to transmit HIV-1 to their infants. Significantly higher rates of prematurity and intrauterine growth retardation were found among HIV-1-infected infants than among those in the uninfected, HIV-1-exposed control group. Prematurity was associated with shortened survival in HIV-1-infected infants. Measures of intrauterine growth and gestation appear to be important predictors of HIV-1 infection status for seropositive infants and of prognosis for the infected infant.