Objective. To examine the association of maternal hard drug use (injection drugs, cocaine, and opiates) on lymphocyte subsets and clinical morbidity in uninfected infants who are born to human immunodeficiency virus-infected mothers who were enrolled in the Women and Infants Transmission Study (1990–2000).
Methods. Maternal hard drug use was identified by self-report and/or urine toxicology. Infant evaluations occurred at birth and at 1, 2, 4, 6, 9, 12, 18, and 24 months of age.
Results. A total of 401 (28%) of the 1436 uninfected infants were born to drug-using mothers. Maternal CD4 lymphocyte percentage and RNA at delivery were not significantly different between drug users and nonusers. Infants who were born to drug-using mothers had lower mean gestational age (37.8 vs 38.5 weeks) and birth weight (2.9 vs 3.1 kg). Infants with intrauterine drug exposure had lower CD4 lymphocyte percentage over the first 4 months of life after adjusting for covariates and higher natural killer lymphocyte percentage. When the analysis was stratified by time period of entry, the incidence of clinical events was not different between infants who were born to drug users versus nonusers.
Conclusion. Maternal hard drug use is associated with immunologic changes in infants early in life, although these changes did not seem to be associated with increased risk of infections.