Infants who are HIV exposed but uninfected (HEU) compared with HIV unexposed uninfected (HUU) have an increased risk of adverse birth outcomes, morbidity and hospitalization. In the era of universal maternal antiretroviral treatment, there are few insights into patterns of neonatal morbidity specifically.
A prospective cohort study.
We compared neonatal hospitalizations among infants who were HEU (n = 463) vs. HUU (n = 466) born between 2017 and 2019 to a cohort of pregnant women from a large antenatal clinic in South Africa. We examined maternal and infant factors associated with hospitalization using logistic regression.
Hospitalization rates were similar between neonates who were HEU and HUU (13 vs. 16%; P = 0.25). Overall, most hospitalizations occurred directly after birth (87%); infection-related causes were identified in 34%. The most common reason for hospitalization unrelated to infection was respiratory distress (25%). Very preterm birth (<32 weeks) (29 vs. 11%; P = 0.01) as well as very low birthweight (<1500 g) (34 vs. 16%; P = 0.02) occurred more frequently among hospitalized neonates who were HEU. Of those hospitalized, risk of intensive care unit (ICU) admission was higher in neonates who were HEU (53%) than HUU (27%) [risk ratio = 2.1; 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.3–3.3]. Adjusted for very preterm birth, the risk of ICU admission remained higher among neonates who were HEU (aRR = 1.8; 95% CI 1.1–2.9).
Neonates who were HEU (vs. HUU) did not have increased all-cause or infection-related hospitalization. However, very preterm birth, very low birthweight and ICU admission were more likely in hospitalized neonates who were HEU, indicating increased severity of neonatal morbidity.