HIV transmission has been associated with offering a child food prechewed by an HIV-infected caregiver. We assessed awareness of prechewing and oral prewarming of food by an adult before offering it to a child among HIV-infected pregnant women and clinical investigators in 3 Latin American countries.
HIV-infected pregnant women at 12 sites (Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development International Site Development Initiative Perinatal Longitudinal Study in Latin American Countries, a prospective cohort trial) in Argentina, Brazil, and Peru were administered a screening survey about prechewing/prewarming of infant foods and cautioned against these feeding practices. Survey responses were analyzed, overall, and stratified according to country.
Of the 401 HIV-infected pregnant women interviewed, 34% had heard about prechewing (50% from Argentina, 32% from Brazil, and 36% from Peru), 23% knew someone who prechewed food for infants, and 4% had prechewed food in the past. Seventeen percent had heard about oral prewarming of food, 13% knew someone who prewarmed food for infants, and 3% had prewarmed food for an infant in the past. Women who reported knowing someone who prechewed were more likely to also know someone who prewarmed food (P < .0001). Few site investigators anticipated that their patients would be aware of these practices.
Prechewing food, a potential risk factor for HIV transmission, and orally prewarming food, which has not been associated with HIV transmission but might expose a child to blood from an HIV-infected adult, are not uncommon practices in Latin America. Both practices should be further investigated. Site investigator responses underscore that health care providers could be missing information about cultural practices that patients may not report unless specifically asked.
Keywords: HIV, prechewing, prewarming, premastication, child