New York: A new study from South Africa found that more than two-thirds of mothers and other caregivers pre-chew food for their infants -- possibly putting those babies at risk of HIV if the caregiver is HIV-positive.Though the researchers didn`t ask the caregivers whether or not they had the virus when they discussed infant feeding, about half of them were interviewed at an HIV clinic.Many caregivers who pre-chewed also had bleeding gums and mouth sores, and some reported giving bloody, chewed food to infants -- which could create a route for disease transmission if infants were teething or had any cuts in their own mouths.Pre-chewing -- also known as premastication -- has also been reported in the U.S. and Latin America.The current study is "yet one more setting around the world where someone has said that the practice of premastication is present in their society," said Dr. Aditya Gaur, of St. Jude Children`s Research Hospital in Memphis, who did not work on the new research."The next thing is to see, how much of a risk does this practice pose in terms of transmission of pathogens?" he said.Dr. Gaur was part of the research team that first tied pre-chewed food to HIV transmission in the U.S. But in general, he said, "the actual proven cases where you can show this link are few."
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