Investigating mediators of the poor pneumonia outcomes of human immunodeficiency virus–exposed but uninfected children

Matthew S. Kelly, Jiayin Zheng, Sefelani Boiditswe, Andrew P. Steenhoff, Kristen A. Feemster, Tonya Arscott-Mills, Boitshepe Seme, Bakgaki Ratshaa, Ikanyeng Rulaganyang, Mohamed Z. Patel, Savarra Mantzor, Samir S. Shah, Coleen K. Cunningham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background. Human immunodeficiency virus–exposed but uninfected (HIV-EU) children have a higher mortality rate than the children of HIV-negative mothers (HIV-unexposed). Causal mediators of the poor health outcomes of HIV-EU children remain poorly defined. Methods. We conducted a hospital-based prospective cohort study of children aged 1 to 23 months with clinically defined pneumonia. The children were recruited at a referral hospital in Gaborone, Botswana, between April 2012 and June 2016. The primary outcome, treatment failure at 48 hours, was assessed by an investigator blinded to the children’s HIV-exposure status. We examined associations between HIV exposure and pneumonia outcomes in HIV-uninfected children. We next determined whether the effect of HIV exposure on outcomes was mediated by low-birth-weight status, nonbreastfeeding, malnutrition, in utero exposure to combination antiretroviral therapy, or pneumonia severity. Results. A total of 352 HIV-uninfected children were included in these analyses, including 245 (70%) HIV-unexposed and 107 (30%) HIV-EU children. Their median age was 7.4 months, and 57% were male. Treatment failure occurred in 111 (32%) children, and 19 (5.4%) children died. HIV-EU children were more likely to fail treatment (risk ratio [RR], 1.57 [95% confidence interval (CI), 1.19–2.07]; P = .002) and had a higher in-hospital mortality rate (RR, 4.50 [95% CI, 1.86–10.85]; P = .001) than HIV-unexposed children. Nonbreastfeeding mediated 47% of the effect of HIV exposure on the risk of in-hospital death. Conclusions. HIV-EU children have worse pneumonia outcomes than HIV-unexposed children. Nonbreastfeeding mediates nearly half of the effect of HIV exposure on pneumonia mortality. Our findings provide additional evidence for a mortality benefit of breastfeeding by HIV-EU children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-20
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - 28 Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Breastfeeding
  • Children
  • HIV-exposed uninfected
  • Mortality
  • Pneumonia


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