Transmission of High-Risk Human Papillomavirus (HPV) between Parents and Infant: a Prospective Study of HPV in Families in Finland

Authors:  Marjut A. M. Rintala1,Seija E Grénman1Mirja H. Puranen2,3Erika Isolauri4Ulla Ekblad1Pentti O. Kero4 and Stina M. Syrjänen2,3


The Finnish HPV Family Study is a prospective cohort study assessing the dynamics of human papillomavirus (HPV) transmission between parents and infant. Serial genital and oral scrapings from 76 families, including mother, father, and infant, and semen samples were collected over 2 years of follow-up, analyzed by nested PCR, and confirmed by hybridization with 12 high-risk (HR) HPV types. The most common HPV profile was HR HPV in all family members (29%), followed by HPV-positive mother-infant pairs (26%). HPV-positive father-infant pairs were less frequent (11%), and in six (8%) families, only the infant was HR HPV positive. The prevalence of genital HR HPV in the parents ranged from 13 to 25%, and that of oral HPV ranged from 8 to 34%. In the infants, HPV DNA was detected in 15% of the genital and 10% of the oral samples at birth, reaching peaks of 18 and 21%, respectively, at 6 months, and declining to 10% at 24 months. Persistent HPV in the mother was a risk factor for oral HPV in the infant (odds ratio [OR], 5.69; 95% confidence interval [95% CI], 1.5 to 21.3), while oral HPV in the mother at 6 months was a risk factor for genital HR HPV (OR, 6.38; 95% CI, 1.15 to 35.32). No such independent risk could be attributed to subclinical HPV in the father. Persistent maternal cervical HPV and subclinical oral HPV affect the risk of infant HPV. The age of 6 months is a critical point for the infant to acquire or be free of HR HPV DNA.

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