Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Why HIV-uninfected babies born to mothers with HIV might be more vulnerable to infections

Date:
February 9, 2011
Source:
Imperial College London
Summary:
Babies whose mothers have HIV, but who are not HIV-infected themselves, are born with lower levels of specific proteins in their blood called antibodies, which fight infection, compared with babies not exposed to HIV, a new study has found. The finding might explain in part why uninfected babies born to women with HIV have a higher risk of illness and death early in life.

Babies whose mothers have HIV, but who are not HIV-infected themselves, are born with lower levels of specific proteins in their blood called antibodies, which fight infection, compared with babies not exposed to HIV, a new study has found. The finding, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, might explain in part why uninfected babies born to women with HIV have a higher risk of illness and death early in life.

Major programmes using antiretroviral drugs have successfully reduced the rate of mother-to-child transmission of HIV from 20-30 per cent to around five per cent in some areas of South Africa and to less than one per cent in developed countries. However, HIV-uninfected infants born to HIV-infected mothers in Africa are more prone to infections such as pneumonia and meningitis, and up to four times more likely to die before their first birthday, compared with babies born to HIV-negative women. Socioeconomic factors are thought to account partially for this discrepancy but differences in the babies' immune systems might also be important.

The new study, by scientists from Imperial College London and Stellenbosch University in South Africa, found that babies born to HIV-infected mothers had significantly lower levels at birth of antibodies against a range of bacterial infections (Hib, pertussis, pneumococcus and tetanus).

Antibodies, which bind to specific pathogens and direct immune cells to attack them, are transferred from mother to child through the placenta late in pregnancy. The study found lower levels of some specific antibodies in mothers with HIV, but also that less antibody is transferred from mother to child across the placenta.

Despite their low antibody levels at birth, the babies in the study responded well to vaccination: they produced similar levels of antibody to some vaccines and higher levels to other vaccines.

"It's likely that lower antibody levels in these babies contributes to lower protection against infection before the babies have received their vaccines," said Dr Christine Jones from the Department of Paediatrics at Imperial College London, the study's first author. "Although they appear more vulnerable in the first few months of life, the good news is that these babies respond well to vaccination. We might be able to protect them even better against infections, either by vaccinating them earlier or by vaccinating the mother in pregnancy. More research will be needed to establish what the best way of protecting these babies might be."

The study involved 109 HIV-infected and uninfected mothers in a community health centre in Khayelitsha, a rapidly-growing township in Cape Town, South Africa. The researchers measured antibody levels in the mothers at delivery and the infants at birth. They also assessed how the babies responded to routine vaccination by measuring the babies' antibody levels at four months, after they had received their routine vaccines.

Amongst the HIV-negative women in the study, a third also had low antibody levels, showing that protection against infection in their babies might also not be optimal in some women, who are otherwise perfectly healthy.

Dr Beate Kampmann, Reader in Paediatric Infection & Immunity at Imperial and the senior author of the study, said: "Around six million children under five die every year from infectious diseases, and a lot of these deaths are preventable by using existing vaccines. Studies like ours are helping us understand why certain infants might be especially susceptible to infections, and how we might tailor vaccination policies to protect vulnerable babies more effectively."

The Imperial team will soon begin a new project studying antibody levels in babies and mothers with and without HIV, among patient volunteers from Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. This work is funded by Imperial's Biomedical Research Centre, which was awarded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR).

The South Africa study was supported by funds from the European Society for Paediatric Infectious Diseases, the Thrasher Research Fund, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation and the Wellcome Trust.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Imperial College London. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Christine E. Jones, Shalena Naidoo, Corena De Beer, Monika Esser, Beate Kampmann, Anneke C. Hesseling. Maternal HIV Infection and Antibody Responses Against Vaccine-Preventable Diseases in Uninfected Infants. JAMA, 2011; 305 (6): 576-584 DOI: 10.1001/jama.2011.100

Cite This Page:

Imperial College London. "Why HIV-uninfected babies born to mothers with HIV might be more vulnerable to infections." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 February 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110208163502.htm>.
Imperial College London. (2011, February 9). Why HIV-uninfected babies born to mothers with HIV might be more vulnerable to infections. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110208163502.htm
Imperial College London. "Why HIV-uninfected babies born to mothers with HIV might be more vulnerable to infections." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110208163502.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Newsy (July 30, 2014) The Center for Science in the Public Interest released its 2014 list of single meals with whopping calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins