Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Infant Neurodevelopment After Congenital HHV-6 Infection

By: Lewis First, MD, MS; Editor-in-Chief 

HHV-6 Inclusion bodies. Photo via the US National Cancer Institute
While we usually think of human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) as being the virus responsible for roseola, there is much more to this virus than a simple viral exanthem. About 1 percent of infants are born with vertical transmission of HHV-6 and when this happens, the results are far more worrisome than just being at risk for a viral exanthem.

Dr. Mary Caserta and her colleagues in Rochester (doi: 10.1542/peds. 2014-0886) have been actively studying congenital HHV-6 and this month release their findings on early developmental outcomes of children who have received the virus through vertical transmission from mother to baby. The authors performed developmental testing in a prospective double-blind controlled study at four points between 4 months and 30 months of age.

The results suggest that by 1 year old, some detrimental effects on neurodevelopment can be seen in those infants infected congenitally with HHV-6 compared to controls.

Have you thought about HHV-6 as a cause for developmental delay in your patients? After reading this study, you will want to learn more about what this virus can potentially do if it is present at the time of birth. We suspect more studies will be forthcoming at a faster rate given what we are learning about this virus—and if you haven’t read much about it, this is a great study to start with. Check out the study and learn more!

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