It is becoming more prevalent in modern day society for women to become infected with the HIV virus. Women who are infected with the virus run the risk of transmitting the virus to their unborn children. The HIV virus can be transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy, during the delivery process, as well as when breastfeeding. Remember, that the virus is transmitted through exposure to bodily fluids of an infected person.
In Europe, roughly fifteen to twenty percent of babies that contract HIV from their mothers, contract the virus from mothers that are not taking any anti-HIV drugs. Women that take anti-HIV drugs while pregnant can eliminate the risks of spreading the virus to their unborn fetus. Typically, HIV is transmitted to an unborn fetus during the final weeks of pregnancy, or during the delivery stage.
Reducing The Risks of Transmission
The risks of a mother transmitting the HIV virus to her unborn fetus can be reduced substantially, if the pregnant mother takes the proper medications while pregnant with her child. In fact, transmission levels decrease to one percent, for women who obtain an adequate amount of treatment while pregnant. Women who opt to have a caesarean delivery and do not breastfeed their children, will be doing their child justice, ensuring that they do not become infected with this horrid virus. A study conducted in 2010, revealed that infected mothers who took the proper precautions and followed their doctors orders, were able to prevent spreading the HIV virus to their fetuses.
Factors Increasing Risk of Infection
Even though an infected mother can do things to eliminate her child from being infected with the HIV virus, there are some factors that increase the risk of a child becoming infected. These factors include:
- The infected mother is within an advanced state of the HIV virus, or has reached the final state of the virus, known as AIDS.
- The infected mother has a high amount of the virus that is persistent within her body, and possesses an extremely low CD4 count.
- The infected mother’s water breaks four hours before she delivers. If this occurs, the child will be forced to be surrounded by additional fluids and blood, which increase the risk of the child becoming infected with the virus as well.
- The infected mother gives birth to her child vaginally, while in a high viral state of the virus.
- The infected mother contracts an infection within the genital area.
- The infected mother decides to breastfeed her child, after giving birth.
If an uninfected mother, contracts HIV while pregnant with her child, this will also increase the possibility of the child being infected with the virus.
Breastfeeding Increases Risks
Breastfeeding is supposed to be the best thing that a mother can do for her child. Breast milk provides babies with all of the applicable nutrients that they need in order to develop accordingly. However, even though breastfeeding is encouraged by medical professionals all over the world, it is not encouraged by professionals, if the nursing mother is infected with HIV.
In fact, infected mothers who choose to breastfeed their children will increase the risks of their child being infected by one in three. Effective treatment strategies for HIV during this state will reduce the risk, but the fact that the risk still persists is more than enough reason to not even attempt to breastfeed a child. Infected women are advised not to breastfeed their children, if there is a safer alternative that exists. The United Kingdom has ruled bottle-feeding a newborn to be an effective way to care for them, if the mother is infected with the HIV virus, or if she is unable to breastfeed for other medical related reasons.