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Pregnancy

Risk of Microcephaly Increases in Children if the Mother is Exposed to Efavirenz

The new study reveals if a woman undergoing HIV treatment with a medicine called efavirenz gives birth to a child, the chances of having a child microcephaly increase to 2 to 2.5 times. The child with this disease has a small head size as compare to the other children whose mother received other types of antiretroviral drugs. There is a greater risk of developmental delays in children with microcephaly as compared to normal head-sized children.

This research paper is published online on Nov 19, 2019, in The Lancet (HIV). The authors Paige L. Williams, Ph.D., and colleagues from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health conducted a study on pregnant women who receive HIV therapy and analyzed to reveal the results of HIV therapy on the newborn babies. This research was funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH).

NIH is the component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It works at the primary federal level including 27 centers and institutes that provide support to the clinical, basic and translational medical research. It also involves the investigation of treatment, causes, and cures for rare and common diseases.

According to the Rohan Hazar, the chief of Maternal and Pediatric Infectious Disease the Branch of NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver NICHD that the analysis of our study highlights the importance of giving the alternative drugs or treatments in combination with HIV therapy containing efavirenz to the pregnant women who are positive for HIV.

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) is the research center that is involved in the human development process, improving reproductive health. It also enhances the quality of life for children and adolescents.

NIH is the component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It works at the primary federal level including 27 centers and institutes that provide support to the clinical, basic and translational medical research. It also involves in the investigation of treatment, causes, and cures for rare and common disease

The researcher took the data from the follow-up study that involved more than 3000 newborn infants. The mothers of all these newborn babies were HIV positive and were receiving HIV therapy during the whole pregnancy period. At the early stages of this study, the circumference heads of these children measured at regular intervals from the age of 6 months to 5-7 years.

From the results of a recent study, the researchers classify the head growth of children into two groups. The first one was developed based on the standard by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This classification includes Nellhaus Charts for children who are under the age of 3 years. For the second classification, Investigators developed the Nellhaus charts from the time of birth to 18 years of age.

The standards of Nellhaus chart that the risk of developing the microcephaly in the children whose mother had a proper routine of containing the drug the efavirenz increases twice as compared to that child whose mothers were receiving another drug. The combined Nellhaus-CDC standards disclosed that the drug exposure to the fetus in the mother womb enhances the chance 2.5 times more for the development of microcephaly. The Nellhaus Standards for child development from age 1 to 5 years also showed that the score of microcephalic children is low on the standardized tests.

141 children were exposed to the drug efavirenz in the mother womb, 14(9.9%) children were observed to have microcephaly. 142 (5%) out of 2842 are those who are not exposed to the drug but have microcephaly. This percentage is nearly half as compared to the one who is exposed to the drug efavirenz. It was also noted that all type of HIV therapies does not lead to the risk of developing microcephaly in the newborn.

Following are the agencies and organizations that provide the funding for the study includes national institute on drug abuse, NIH Office of AIDS Research , National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research and National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Click here to read the complete online research results.

 

 

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Areeba Hussain

The author is a fulltime medical and healthcare writer. She graduated in Medical Microbiology and Immunology with distinction. Her areas of prime interest are medicine, medical technology, disease awareness, and research analysis. Twitter @Areeba94789300

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