THURSDAY, May 3 -- The use of the anti-HIV drug tenofovir during pregnancy appears to be safe for infants, new research suggests.
In combination with other anti-HIV drugs, tenofovir (Viread) is the first line of treatment for adults with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. These findings should reassure pregnant women who are taking tenofovir, the researchers said.
The study was conducted by the U.S. National Institutes of Health network because previous studies showed that laboratory animals exposed to tenofovir in the womb were smaller at birth than those that were not exposed to the drug.
The new study included 2,000 infants born to HIV-positive mothers between 2003 and 2010 in the United States. Infants born to mothers who took tenofovir during pregnancy did not weigh less at birth and did not have shorter length than those born to women who did not take the drug.
At 1 year of age, however, children born to mothers who took tenofovir during pregnancy were slightly shorter and had slightly smaller head circumference (an average of about 1 centimeter) than children whose mothers did not take the drug, the investigators found.
The researchers said further studies should be conducted to follow the children as they grow and develop in order to identify any potential long-term effects of taking tenofovir during pregnancy.
The study was released online April 26 in advance of publication in an upcoming print issue of the journal AIDS.
"This study produced reassuring information regarding the use of tenofovir," first author Dr. George Siberry, of the Pediatric, Adolescent and Maternal AIDS Branch of the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, said in a National Institutes of Health news release.
"Although further research is needed ... our findings favor the use of tenofovir in pregnancy to ensure good outcomes in the mother and prevent transmission of HIV to the infant," Siberry added.