Percentage of infants born to HIV-positive women becoming infected
• If not breastfed - 15 to 30%
• If breastfed up to six months - 25 to 35%
• If breastfed for 18 to 24 months - 30 to 40%
Adapted from De Cock, JAMA 20005
Mother-to-child transmission (MTCT): Transmission of HIV from an infected mother to her infant can occur during pregnancy, during labor or after delivery through breast milk. In the absence of preventive interventions, about one-third of babies born to HIV-infected women become infected with HIV in developing countries.
The risk of MTCT is greatest when the level of virus in the mother’s blood is high. This occurs in the weeks after a woman first becomes infected, and again, generally years later, when she develops AIDS-related symptoms.6 The risk of MTCT is greater during vaginal delivery than during elective cesarean. However, cesarean births are not always the best option in refugee situations because of the risk of infection and other complications. Invasive procedures during delivery, such as artificial rupture of membranes or episiotomy, may increase the risk of MTCT.