The effects of prenatal HIV exposure on language functioning in Kenyan children: establishing an evaluative framework.
Alcock KJ., Abubakar A., Newton CR., Holding P.
BACKGROUND: HIV infection has been associated with impaired language development in prenatally exposed children. Although most of the burden of HIV occurs in sub-Saharan Africa, there have not been any comprehensive studies of HIV exposure on multiple aspects of language development using instruments appropriate for the population. METHODS: We compared language development in children exposed to HIV in utero to community controls (N = 262, 8-30 months) in rural Kenya, using locally adapted and validated communicative development inventories. RESULTS: The mean score of the younger HIV-exposed uninfected infants (8-15 months) was not significantly below that of the controls; however older HIV-exposed uninfected children had significantly poorer language scores, with HIV positive children scoring more poorly than community controls, on several measures. CONCLUSIONS: Our preliminary data indicates that HIV infection is associated with impaired early language development, and that the methodology developed would be responsive to a more detailed investigation of the variability in outcome amongst children exposed to HIV, irrespective of their infection status.