Child: care, health and development 2016 8 22() doi 10.1111/cch.12399
HIV infection in infancy may influence the developing brain, leading to adverse neurodevelopmental consequences.
We aim to describe neurodevelopmental characteristics of a cohort of HIV-infected infants and young children prior to antiretroviral therapy (ART) initiation and after achieving viral suppression.
As part of the Neverest 2 trial, 195 HIV-infected children under 2 years of age were assessed using the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) prior to ART initiation and at subsequent age-appropriate time points after ART had been started. The ASQ is a simple screening questionnaire used to identify children at risk of neurodevelopmental delays. Questionnaires completed by the parent/caregiver assess neurodevelopmental functioning in five domains: communication, gross motor, fine motor, problem solving and personal-social.
Median age pre-ART was 8.8 months (range 2.2-24.9) and 53.9% were male. Mean time to viral suppression was 9.4 months (range 5.9-14.5). Compared with pre-ART better outcomes were reported at time of viral suppression with a lower proportion of children failing the gross motor (31.5% vs. 13%, p = 0.0002), fine motor (21.3% vs. 10.2%, p = 0.017), problem solving (26.9% vs. 9.3%, p = 0.0003) and personal-social (19.6% vs. 7.4%, p = 0.019) domains. However, there was no change in the communication domain (14.8% vs. 12.0%, p = 0.6072).
Although achieving viral suppression on ART resulted in significant improvements in markers of neurodevelopmental function of young HIV-infected children, potential neurodevelopmental delays still persisted in a large proportion. Further interventions are needed to limit potential disabilities and maximize developmental outcomes.