To evaluate the geographic distribution of human T-lymphotropic virus types 1 and 2 (HTLV-1/2) in the State of Minas Gerais, Brazil, in puerperal women whose newborns were tested for HTLV-1/2 during neonatal screening, and to overlap seropositivity with social and economic status determinants.
During September–November 2007, the dry-blood samples taken from newborns on filter paper for routine screening were also tested for maternal IgG anti-HTLV-1/2 antibod- ies. For reactive samples, the mothers of the newborns had blood drawn to test for these viruses.
The study analyzed 55 293 specimens taken from newborns. Of these, 52 (9.4 per 10 000) were reactive and 42 mothers (7.6 per 10 000) were confirmed with HTLV-1/2 infec- tion. HTLV-1/2 geographic distribution was heterogeneous, with a tendency to be higher in the North and North-East parts of Minas Gerais. The highest rates of seropositivity were ob- served in Vale do Mucuri (55.9 per 10 000) and in Jequitinhonha (16.0 per 10 000), overlap- ping with the State’s worst social and economic indicators.
To our knowledge this was the first time that neonatal screening for HTLV-1/2 was performed in Brazil. This model could be used in other areas with high HTLV-1/2 prevalence rates. The detection of carrier mothers can enable intervention measures, such as providing in- fant formula to newborns, to be implemented expeditiously to reduce vertical transmission.