Drugs to prevent HIV-positive pregnant women from infecting their unborn babies appear safe and don't raise the risk for premature birth or infant death, new research indicates.
The US scientists said their findings should ease worries among expectant mothers treated with antiviral regimens that contain the drug tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF).
The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
A fresh analysis
"The analysis provides reassurance that regimens containing TDF are appropriate for use during pregnancy," said Dr Rohan Hazra in a US National Institutes of Health news release.
Hazra is chief of the NIH's National Institute of Child Health and Human Development's maternal and paediatric infectious disease division.
The NIH-funded research involved a fresh analysis of two previous studies on the use of antivirals during pregnancy.
For the study, Kathryn Rough of the Harvard School of Public Health and colleagues reviewed research that compared the risk of premature birth and other negative outcomes among US moms-to-be who received one of these three drug regimens:
- Zidovudine, lamivudine, lopinavir/ritonavir
- TDF, emtricitabine, lopinavir/ritonavir
- TDF, emtricitabine, atazanavir/ritonavir
In all, the researchers reviewed the records of more than 3 800 women and 4 600 babies.
The study found no difference in the risk for premature birth, low birth weight or other serious complications among those who didn't receive TDF and those who got TDF along with emtricitabine and lopinavir/ritonavir.
The researchers said the third group of women – those treated with TDF along with emtricitabine and atazanavir/ritonavir – actually had a 10% lower risk of premature birth and other complications than those who didn't receive TDF.
Brand names for TDF are Viread and Vemlidy.
In South Africa, TDF is registered for the treatment of infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), often in combination with other anti-retroviral drugs.
The researchers said earlier evidence suggested that TDF was safe for use during pregnancy. They added that the World Health Organization recommends all adults with the Aids-causing HIV virus – even expectant women – receive a drug regimen that includes TDF.
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