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January 25, 1995

HTLV-1 Proviral DNA in Oral Aspirates of Newborns Born to Seropositive Mothers

Author Affiliations

Kochi Medical School Kochi, Japan
Okinawa Nambu Hospital Kochi, Japan
Nagayama Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinic Kochi, Japan

JAMA. 1995;273(4):284. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520280028023

To the Editor.  —Milk-borne transmission of human T-lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) has been well established both epidemiologically and experimentally. Switching from breastfeeding to bottle-feeding reduced the virus infection rate to approximately one tenth, but a few bottle-fed infants still became infected with HTLV-1 through an as yet unidentified route.1 Transplacental or intrauterine transmission of HTLV-1 has been a controversial subject because detection of HTLV-1 antigen or proviral DNA in umbilical cord blood does not necessarily lead to seroconversion of the children.2-4 We now report that perinatal infection of HTLV-1 may account for the rare cases of seroconversion not related to breast-feeding.We studied 17 HTLV-1 antibody—positive carrier mothers and their newborn infants: 10 of them were delivered by the vaginal route and the other seven by cesarean section at term. During pregnancy, the presence of HTLV-1 antibodies was checked by the particle agglutination method (titers 1:64 to

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