From Mother to Child

With the numbers of HIV-infected women on the rise, the problem of mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV is becoming more serious as well. In fact, MTCT is responsible for over 90 percent of the HIV infections in children under age fifteen.

HIV can be transmitted from an infected mother during pregnancy, during childbirth, or after birth through contaminated breast milk. The risk of transmission is approximately 15 percent to 30 percent, even if a mother does not breast-feed her infant. When infected mothers breast-feed, however, the risk of HIV transmission to their babies rises to 25 percent to 50 percent. Approximately six hundred thousand HIV-infected infants are born each year around the world, with over 90 percent of these infections taking place in sub-Saharan Africa.

An African man comforts his sister, who is terminally ill with AIDS. Women in developing nations are more likely to develop AIDS than men.

There is hope, however, for curbing MTCT. In fact, through education, counseling, access to antiretroviral drugs, safe delivery practices, and the availability of breast-milk substitutes, MTCT has been virtually eliminated in the developed world. Taking anti-retroviral drugs, including nevirapine and AZT, can reduce the risk for MTCT dramatically when administered during pregnancy, during labor, and soon after birth. In addition, the use of breast-milk substitutes eliminates the risk of MTCT through breast milk. Unfortunately for the women at greatest risk, that is, women in the developing world, drugs are not always available, and often

AIDS

the women do not even know to seek treatment. In addition, many of them do not have access to clean water for mixing infants' formula, thus limiting their ability to avoid breast-feeding.

A number of groups, including the United Nations Inter-Agency Task Team on MTCT and several private foundations, have put programs into place to reduce MTCT. These programs currently include pilot projects in Botswana, Brazil, Burundi, Cambodia, Côte d'Ivoire, Honduras, Kenya, Rwanda, Thailand, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Along with counseling and education, drugs such as nevirapine are now being of-

This South African woman learned of her own HIV infection when her daughter (right) was born HIV-positive. Mother-to-child transmission of the disease has declined significantly in developed countries.

This South African woman learned of her own HIV infection when her daughter (right) was born HIV-positive. Mother-to-child transmission of the disease has declined significantly in developed countries.

fered free of charge to developing countries. This is vital to the effort to stop the spread of HIV and could potentially save the lives of three hundred thousand children each year. Still, the most effective way to prevent MTCT remains to protect women from HIV infection in the first place.

Pregnancy Diet Plan

Pregnancy Diet Plan

The first trimester is very important for the mother and the baby. For most women it is common to find out about their pregnancy after they have missed their menstrual cycle. Since, not all women note their menstrual cycle and dates of intercourse, it may cause slight confusion about the exact date of conception. That is why most women find out that they are pregnant only after one month of pregnancy.

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