Combination antiretroviral (cARV) regimens are recommended for pregnant women with HIV to prevent perinatal HIV transmission. Safety is a concern for infants who were HIV-exposed but uninfected (HEU), particularly for neurodevelopmental problems, such as language delays.
We studied late language emergence (LLE) in HEU children enrolled in a US-based prospective cohort study. LLE was defined as a caregiver-reported score ≤ 10th percentile in any of 4 domains of the MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventory for one-year-olds and as ≥1 standard deviation below age-specific norms for the Ages and Stages Questionnaire for two-year-olds. Logistic regression models were used to evaluate associations of in utero cARV exposure with LLE, adjusting for infant, maternal, and environmental characteristics.
1,129 language assessments were conducted among 792 one- and two-year-olds (50% male, 62% black, and 37% Hispanic). Overall, 86% had in utero exposure to cARV and 83% to protease inhibitors. LLE was identified in 26% of one-year-olds and 23% of two-year-olds, with higher rates among boys. In adjusted models, LLE was not associated with maternal cARV or ARV drug classes in either age group. Among cARV-exposed one-year-olds, increased odds of LLE was observed for those exposed to atazanavir (aOR=1.83, 95% CI=1.10-3.04), particularly after the first trimester (aOR=3.56, p=0.001), compared to atazanavir-unexposed infants. No associations of individual ARV drugs with LLE were observed among two-year-olds.
In utero cARV exposure showed little association with LLE, except for a higher risk of language delay observed in one-year-old infants with atazanavir exposure.