What are the health outcomes of babies born to HIV infected mothers in BC?

A newborn baby's feet

Data access has been approved for a research project which will use linked administrative data to compare the health of babies born to mothers infected with HIV with babies born to uninfected mothers.

The study is led by Professor Patti Janssen from the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia and is part of a larger research program that includes the pan-Canadian CARMA cohort study led by Hélène Côté, also at UBC. It is funded through a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Team Grant on Cellular Aging and HIV Co-morbidities in Women and Children.

“Prevention of HIV mother-to-child transmission has historically been a priority.  Through this research we want to look not only at this, but also the long-term health outcomes of children who are exposed and both uninfected and infected,” says Professor Janssen.  “Concerns have been raised regarding the potential long-term adverse effects resulting from exposure to the virus and antiretroviral therapy (ARV) used during pregnancy and infancy.”

Early reports from a similar study in Europe have indicated a high incidence of viral and bacterial infections in the first year of life in infants born to HIV infected mothers. A pilot survey by the CARMA team of 103 children born to HIV-infected mothers in BC also suggested a high incidence of infections early in life. This study will tell us more about infections and other health issues reported in a larger cohort in British Columbia.

The result of this study will help to inform guidelines on management and clinical follow up of this population as well as to identify any specific areas of concern.  The data also has potential widespread impact as the international community is increasing the use of ARV therapy in the developing world, thereby increasing the number of infants who are exposed to both HIV and ARV drugs.

The project will link data from the BC Ministry of Health, BC Cancer Agency, BC Vital Statistics Agency, Perinatal Services BC and BC Women’s Hospital and Health Centre.