Pediatric AIDS

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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:46 pm
Most children with AIDS contracted the disease from an HIV-positive mother. Generally, the baby is infected during pregnancy or birth, although breast-feeding can also transmit H-I-V, the virus that causes AIDS. About 15 to 30 percent of babies born to untreated mothers will be infected with HIV. However, if the disease is detected in the mother soon enough, medication can significantly decrease the chance of transmission. Prevention is crucial, because babies are especially vulnerable to the effects of HIV. Most develop complications within two years, unlike adults, who may go 10 years before showing signs of progression to AIDS. The disease also interferes with an infant's motor skills, growth, and other aspects of mental and physical development. Opportunistic infections, a serious problem in adult patients, are especially dangerous to children before age one, because their immune systems aren't mature. The AIDS-related form of pneumonia known as 'PCP' can be fatal to infants. Bacterial infections are also dangerous, as they can lead to dehydration or seizures. For this reason, measures like immunizations and antibiotics are vital for HIV-positive children. New diagnostic techniques make it possible to detect and treat infections in babies sooner. However, early treatment of the mother is still the best strategy for fighting this tragic disease in children. To find out more about pediatric AIDS, consult a health care specialist.
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