Longer breastfeeding in conjunction with ART (antiretroviral therapy) could diminish the risk of mother-to-child HIV transmission and boost chances of babies’ survival, claimed a new study by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But weaning before six months does not protect these infants from HIV infection and significantly increases their odds of illness.
Between 2004 and 2010, a study called as the Breastfeeding, Antiretrovirals, and Nutrition (BAN) was carried out in Malawai, involving about twenty-four hundred HIV-infected breastfeeding mothers and their infants. The study participants wee asinnged one of three twenty-eight-week regimens. First one is maternal triple antiretroviral, second is daily infant nevirapine and thirdy the control group.
The preliminary findings showed that giving antiretroviral drugs to mothers or their babies for up to six months significantly reduced the transmission of HIV to the breastfeeding babies. But about a third of babies get infected after most mothers had reported to wean their babies before six months. It suggested that odds of transmitting the virus might actually increase because of early weaning.
On the bais of these findings World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends antiretroviral prophylaxis for HIV-infected mothers or their babies all through breastfeeding. The studyw as published in journal The Lancet. Lead author Denise Jamieson, stated maternal prophylaxis effectively reduces postnatal HIV-1 transmission and this protective effect continues until after breastfeeding is stopped.
However, transmission does occur after mothers report that they have weaned their infants, so breastfeeding with prophylaxis for longer than twenty-eight weeks might be advantageous. Infant morbidity and mortality also increased twenty-eight weeks, suggesting continued breastfeeding with prophylaxis given for an extended period could improve infant survival, added Prof Jamieson.