An HIV-positive mother can transmit the infection to the child. HIV infection leads to neurodevelopmental delays in children, but the effects of HIV exposure without infection on child development is unclear. This study aims to investigate the neurodevelopmental outcomes of HIV-exposed uninfected children.

This observational birth cohort study included a total of 1,225 pregnant women aged 18 or more in 20-28 weeks gestation. The birth cohort comprised live births born to enrolled women during the follow-up. The neurodevelopmental outcomes of the offering were analyzed using Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development, third edition (BSID-III). The primary outcome of the study was the incidence of neurodevelopmental impairment.

During the follow-up of 6 months, the data on 1,065 children out of 1,143 live births were available. During a follow-up between birth and 24 months, two children were diagnosed with HIV. BSID-III analysis was conducted on 260 random children (61 HIV-exposed uninfected, 199 HIV-unexposed) at 6 months and 732 random children (168 HIV-exposed uninfected, 564 HIV-unexposed) at 24 months. At 24 months, HIV-exposed uninfected children showed lower scores for receptive language and expressive language, along with cognitive, fine motor, and gross motor function.

The research concluded that HIV-exposed uninfected children were at a higher risk of neurodevelopmental impairment, like receptive and expressive language delays.