Early cognitive and motor developmental delays in HIV-infected infants

Polly Clayden, HIV i-Base

A report published in the August edition of Pediatrics describes the results of an examination of neurodevelopment in infants born to HIV-infected mothers.

Dr Cynthia Chase’s group assessed neurodevelopment of 595 infants in a multicentre, prospective, natural history cohort study, for the Women and Infants Transmission Study (WITS). Analyses were performed on 114 infected and 481 uninfected infants. In Bayley Scales of Infant Development Mental Developmental Index (MDI), the incidence of MDI<69 was 16.5% by 12 months and 35.6% by 24 months in infected infants, compared to 3.2% by 12 months and 8.2% by 24 months in the uninfected group. A decline in score on the Psychomotor Developmental Index (PDI) of at least 2 standard deviations was noted in the HIV-infected group. The investigators reported that a child with HIV-infection is more than twice as likely to experience such a decline compared to an uninfected child. Differences between infected and uninfected infants were apparent as early as 4 months of age.

In their conclusion the investigators stated that a challenge is the ‘prompt and reliable identification of infants and children at high risk for central nervous system disease progression, before the onset of encephalopathy, to initiate early, aggressive initiation of preventing devastating effects of HIV on the developing brain.’


Chase C et al Early cognitive and motor development among infants born to women infected with HIV. Pediatrics. 2000 Aug;106(2):E25.

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