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Drug Shown to Cut HIV Risk
in Breastfed Babies. In a new study, babies given nevirapine for six weeks had
about half the infection rate as those with a single dose at birth.
We talked last week about
the value of breastfeeding for a baby's development. But getting the milk into
the baby can seem difficult, at least at first. So here is some advice.
Breastfeeding should begin right after a baby is born. There may be experts at
a hospital or other health center who can show a new mother several different
positions for breastfeeding.
A mother can get a painful back or neck if she leans over to feed her baby.
Better to bring the baby to the breast instead. The baby's mouth should be open
as wide as possible so that all of the nipple and area around it fit inside.
A baby should be fed often at the beginning, usually about every two hours. The
Mayo Clinic in the United States also notes it is best to feed before a baby
gets too hungry. Experts say that when a mother breastfeeds often, it helps
increase her milk production.
Women can learn more about breastfeeding from books or support groups or the
Internet. But some mothers face difficult decisions.
In developing countries,
breastfeeding remains a leading way for babies to become infected with the AIDS
virus. Yet formula mixed with dirty water can make a baby sick.
Recently, experts reported good news. They said a study of about two thousand
babies showed that the drug nevirapine can cut the risk of HIV infection
Nevirapine is widely used in developing countries to prevent infected mothers
from passing the virus to their babies during childbirth. The babies are
currently given nevirapine just once, at birth.
But this is what the study found: Babies given nevirapine daily for six weeks
had about half the rate of HIV infections as those given only a single dose. By
six months of age, they still had almost one-third less risk of infection or
Scientists reported that six weeks of nevirapine appeared to be as safe as the
single dose given under current guidelines. Teams from Johns Hopkins University
in Maryland led the study with investigators from Ethiopia, India and Uganda.
In two thousand six the United Nations changed its policies on breast feeding
by HIV-infected mothers. The new advice supports breastfeeding for six months if
mothers do not have money for basic foods or baby formula. The idea is that the
benefits of breastfeeding are greater than the risks.
Experts say newborns who are not breastfed have five to seven times the risk of
dying from pneumonia or diarrhea compared to breastfed babies.
Translated by Buasawan Simmala