Zidovudine therapy of HIV-1 infection during pregnancy: Assessment of the effect on the newborns

Antonio Ferrazin, Andrea De Maria, Cristina Gotta, Giovanni Mazzarello, Andrea Canessa, Barbara Ciravegna, Carmela Cirillo, Francesco Melica, Alberto Terragna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Zidovudine (ZDV) administration during pregnancy has been suggested for the prevention of mother-to-child HIV-1 transmission. Reliable levels of the drug have been observed in the fetus and in the newborn. Seven HIV-1-infected pregnant women who declined to have abortions and whose immunological status required antiretroviral treatment were administered oral ZDV 18 mg/kg in four daily doses, the initial dose being administered anytime from the 16th to the 30th week of gestation up until the time of delivery. Follow-up of the seven infants from birth with a mean duration of 22 months (range 16-32 months) revealed mild drug-related toxicity: anemia in two infants and macrocytosis in all seven, both conditions resolved by the second month of life. All infants remained HIV-1 seronegative, according to the 1987 CDC classification, and all stayed clinically well. Other virological parameters including virus culture, in vitro antibody production, and polymerase chain reaction, repeatedly performed in the infants, remained negative. Although none of the mothers transmitted HIV-1 infection to the offspring, the size of this study and the relatively low transmission rate (13%) in Europe do not permit us to draw a definite conclusion about treatment efficacy in preventing maternalfetal transmission. However, the drug caused only limited toxicity among the infants, and its administration to large numbers of mothers in treatment trials should be considered relatively safe for both mother and child.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)376-379
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1993


  • HIV-1 prevention
  • Mother-to-child HIV-1 transmission
  • Pregnancy
  • Zidovudine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Virology
  • Immunology and Allergy


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