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Prevalence of neurodevelopmental delays in infants with perinatal HIV infection in comparison with HIV exposure in rural South Africa.

AIDS 2023 March 22
BACKGROUND: Assessing neurodevelopmental functioning in early infancy is essential as this is a critical period for infant development. Infants born to mothers with HIV are at greater risk of developmental delays than those born to mothers without HIV. In this study, we analyzed differences in early neurodevelopmental functioning for infants with HIV exposure versus HIV infection to inform infant screening and early intervention.

METHODS: Participants were recruited from community health centers in Mpumalanga Province, South Africa. Prenatally, mothers completed baseline demographic assessment at 8-24-week gestation periods. Infant neurodevelopment was assessed using the Bayley Infant Neurodevelopmental Screener (BINS) 12 months postnatally. Five areas of development were assessed: cognition, receptive communication, expressive communication, fine motor ability, and gross motor ability.

FINDINGS: Postnatal infant assessment using the BINS revealed that infants were at risk for neurodevelopmental delays across all domains assessed. Notably, infants exposed to HIV, regardless of HIV status, were "at emerging risk" or "at clear risk" for cognitive (43.5%), receptive communication (38.2%), expressive communication (53.1%), fine motor (49.9%), and gross motor delays (55.6%). Differences were noted by HIV status in the cognition domain, such that HIV exposed infants were more likely to be at emerging or clear risk than HIV infected infants. There was a different trend with gross motor delays, such that HIV infected infants were at greater risk for motor delays than HIV exposed, uninfected infants.

CONCLUSION: Screening tools for this vulnerable population provide valuable early life assessment to determine infant needs for intervention and treatment planning. Such interventions may mitigate the impact of HIV status on neurodevelopmental health generally and cognition.

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