From: Karen McColl, SciDevNet, More from this Affiliate
Published February 28, 2012 08:35 AM

Nipple device could deliver drugs to babies

A simple nipple shield could help breastfeeding mothers cut the risk of HIV infection from breast milk, say researchers.


Nipple shields are often used by mothers who have difficulty breastfeeding, and a modified version of the shield has been developed by a team of young engineers with a view to reducing mother-to-child HIV transmission.

The tip contains a removable insert, which can be impregnated with a microbicide designed to inactivate the HIV virus. The drug would be flushed out by breast milk as the baby feeds.

More recently, the team has been exploring whether a similar device could deliver antiretroviral drugs to breastfeeding babies, in light of changing advice from the WHO. The WHO now recommends that babies born to HIV-positive mothers be breastfed and simultaneously receive antiretroviral drugs, unless conditions are safe for formula feeding.

Globally, about 400,000 children a year are infected with HIV, nearly all acquiring the virus from their mothers. The risk of transmission is significantly increased by breastfeeding.

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