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Combined Use of RetroAntiviral Drugs May Cause Congenital Birth Defects inInfants

Danielle Dougall2 years ago

Among infants born to HIV-infected women, those exposed to the antiretroviral drug atazanavir (Bristol-Myers Squibb) are twice as likely as other infants to be born with a congenital abnormality, according to a new study.

About the Risks Atazanavir Poses to Infants

Medscape reports that among the most common congenital abnormalities resulting from atazanavir are musculoskeletal and skin-related birth defects. However, studies are still being conducted and some say it would be premature to advise against using atazanavir during pregnancy.

Dr. Paige Williams of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston told Reuters Health that the studies on atazanavir and their results “are very reassuring, and we didn't have any results that suggested that women not receive antiretrovirals during pregnancy…the benefits of using antiretrovirals still far outweigh the risks for HIV-infected women.” However, some have suggested that the first-trimester drug efavirenz exposure might increase birth defect risk.

Study on Antiretroviral Drug Use Risk to Infants

  • 2,580 children were enrolled in the Surveillance Monitoring of ART Toxicities (SMARTT) Study of the Pediatric HIV/AIDS Cohort Study network from March 23, 2007 to June 18, 2012.
    • SMARTT is a current study at 22 medical centers in the United States.
  • 175 children had congenital anomalies, for an occurrence of 6.78%.
  • The threat of skin irregularities was five times greater with atazanavir exposure, and the risk of musculoskeletal anomalies was more than doubled.
  • The study did not show any correlation between first-trimester exposure to efavirenz and congenital abnormalities.
  • Women who take antiretroviral drugs usually take more than one type of drug, which complicates its process and may cause congenital defects among infants.


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