THURSDAY, Feb. 11, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection in the oral cavity has been detected in infants and young children, according to a study published in the March issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases, a publication of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Stina Syrjänen, D.D.S., Ph.D., from the University of Turku in Finland, and colleagues examined oral samples from 331 children in Finland from birth during nine follow-up visits (mean, 51.9 months) to examine the prevalence of HPV infections.

The researchers observed variation in oral HPV prevalence, from 8.7 percent at a 36-month visit to 22.8 percent at birth. Within the samples, 18 HPV genotypes were identified. The most prevalent HPV type to persist was HPV16, followed by HPV18, HPV33, and HPV6. There was a correlation seen for persistent, oral, high-risk HPV infection in children with oral HPV carriage of the mother at birth and seroconversion of the mother to high-risk HPV during follow-up (odds ratio, 1.60 to 1.92).

“These results have several major implications in HPV vaccination programs,” the authors write. “If a subgroup of children can acquire a persistent HPV infection, the timing of prophylactic HPV vaccination is imperative. Maternal HPV antibodies, irrespective of whether they are acquired by natural HPV infection or vaccination, might protect the fetus, newborn, and young child against early HPV infection.”

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