A recent study has shown that babies born to mothers with HIV that don’t receive the disease still suffer greater risks to other diseases. In particular they have less immunity to the measles. This makes early immunization a must for the babies of HIV mothers in order to prevent this potentially deadly disease from being contracted by the infant.

The reason for this is suspected to be that immunity to measles generally comes from the mother and is not available from the immune-compromised mother with HIV. In its November issue, the Acta Paediatrica published this study. The World Health Organization has been focused on the elimination of measles for a while. This may be a little a setback in their quest as more infants will be open to the disease, especially in some of the poorer nations of Africa where immunization is not as available, and yet there are many HIV positive mothers.

Measles is still one of the biggest killers when it comes to children. Pneumonia, blindness, diarrhea, and dehydration are just some the complications of the disease that make it so life threatening. There were 139,300 deaths from this extremely contagious disease in 2010 alone. But these numbers have actually been curbed by immunization. Back in the 80’s, the death toll from measles was totaling over two and half million per year. Now, because 85% of children are immunized by age one, that number, while still tragic, has been greatly reduced.

The test was done by comparing the blood samples of ten babies from HIV positive mothers who were not born with HIV, with the blood of ten healthy babies whose mothers did not have HIV. The researchers found a dramatic difference in the antibodies of the babies from the HIV positive mothers who could not pass on immunities like the mother without HIV did.

While most babies are immune to measles for a little while after birth and have time to wait for immunization, babies born from HIV positive mothers lose their immunity much faster and need to be immunized much sooner to prevent risk of infection.