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In Brief

AZT Appears to Protect Babies From AIDS Even After Birth

November 12, 1998

The drug AZT appears to protect many babies from catching the AIDS virus from their mothers, even if treatment begins only after birth. Normally, doctors give the medicine to mothers during their last 14 weeks of pregnancy as well as to babies for six weeks after birth, but that is not possible for women who do not seek prenatal care. So doctors at the New York State Department of Health in Albany reviewed medical records of women treated with AZT.

They report in today's New England Journal of Medicine that even the shorter treatment cuts the risk substantially. As in other studies, they found a 27% risk that HIV-infected mothers would pass the virus to their babies if no AZT was given. But the risk was only 6% if treatment was started before birth, 9% if started within the first two days of life and 18% if started after three days of life.

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Compiled by Times medical writer Thomas H. Maugh II

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