Context. With the success of zidovudine chemoprophylaxis for prevention of perinatal transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), an increasing number of HIV-exposed but uninfected children will have in utero exposure to zidovudine and other antiretroviral drugs. Objective. To evaluate the long-term effects of in utero exposure to zidovudine vs placebo among a randomized cohort of uninfected children. Design. Prospective cohort study based on data collected during Pediatric AIDS Clinical Trials Group Protocol 076, a perinatal zidovudine HIV prevention trial, and Protocol 219, a long- term observational protocol. Setting. Pediatric research clinics in the United States. Patients. Two hundred thirty-four uninfected children born to 230 HIV-infected women enrolled in Protocol 076 and followed up through February 28, 1997, in Protocol 219 (122 in the zidovudine group and 112 in the placebo group). Main Outcome Measures. Physical growth measurements, immunologic parameters, cognitive/developmental function, occurrence of neoplasms, and mortality data assessed every 6 months for children younger than 24 months and yearly thereafter or as clinically indicated. Baseline echocardiogram and funduscopic evaluations were collected before 36 months of age. Results. Median age of children at time of last follow-up visit was 4.2 years (range, 3.2-5.6 years). There were no significant differences between children exposed to zidovudine and those who received placebo in terms of sequential data on lymphocyte subsets; weight, height, and head circumference z scores; and cognitive/developmental function. No deaths or malignancies occurred. Two children (both exposed to zidovudine) are being followed up for abnormal, unexplained ophthalmic findings. One child exposed to zidovudine had a mild cardiomyopathy on echocardiogram at the age of 48 months; the child is clinically asymptomatic. Conclusions. No adverse effects were observed in HIV-uninfected children with in utero and neonatal exposure to zidovudine followed up for as long as 5.6 years. Continued prospective evaluations of children born to HIV-infected women who are exposed to antiretroviral or immunotherapeutic agents are critical to assess the long- term safety of interventions that prevent perinatal HIV transmission.
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