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HIV medication for pregnant mothers increases risk of febrile seizures

26 February, 2002

Mothers with HIV taking medication during pregnancy may reduce the chances of the virus being passed on to her child, however researchers have reported that such medication increases the chances of the child having febrile seizures.

Febrile seizures are the immature brain’s response to a rapid rise in body temperature. Such seizures are common in children between the ages of 6 months and five years. While febrile convulsions are not considered to be epilepsy, they are associated with a 2-5 per cent chance of developing epilepsy at a later date.

A report in The Lancet showed that of over 4,000 children monitored by a study at, 30 children had febrile seizures in their first 18 months, and the risk of such seizures was twice as high for children exposed to HIV medication than for child not exposed.

However, pregnant women with HIV should not be discouraged from using drug therapy to try to prevent the spread of the virus to their babies, said the report's authors.