Neurodevelopment in children born to HIV-infected mothers by infection and treatment status

Kirsty Le Doaré*, Ruth Bland, Marie Louise Newell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

135 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: We reviewed the impact of HIV, HIV exposure, and antiretroviral therapy/prophylaxis on neurodevelopmental outcomes of HIV-infected and HIV-exposed-uninfected infants and children. METHODS: A literature search of Medline, Embase, PsychINFO, Web of Science, PubMed, and conference Web sites (1990-March 2011) using the search terms, infant, child, HIV, neurodevelopment, cognition, language, and antiretroviral therapy, identified 31 studies of HIV/antiretroviral exposure using standardized tools to evaluate infant/child development as the main outcome. Articles were included if results were reported in children <16 years of age who were exposed to HIV and antiretrovirals in fetal/early life, and excluded if children did not acquire HIV from their mothers or were not exposed to antiretrovirals in fetal/early life. RESULTS: Infants who acquired HIV during fetal and early life tended to display poorer mean developmental scores than HIV-unexposed children. Mean motor and cognitive scores were consistently 1 to 2 SDs below the population mean. Mean scores improved if the infant received treatment before 12 weeks and/or a more complex antiretroviral regimen. Older HIV-infected children treated with highly active antiretroviral therapy demonstrated near normal global mean neurocognitive scores; subtle differences in language, memory, and behavior remained. HIV-exposed-uninfected children treated with antiretrovirals demonstrated subtle speech and language delay, although not universally. CONCLUSIONS: In comparison with resource-rich settings, HIV-infected and HIV-exposed-uninfected infants/children in resource-poor settings demonstrated greater neurodevelopmental delay compared with HIV-unexposed infants. The effects on neurodevelopment in older HIV-infected children commenced on antiretroviral therapy from an early age and HIV-exposed-uninfected children particularly in resource-poor settings remain unclear.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e1326-e1344
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Antiretroviral therapy
  • Childhood development
  • HIV
  • Neurodevelopment


Dive into the research topics of 'Neurodevelopment in children born to HIV-infected mothers by infection and treatment status'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this