In developing countries, a child born to a mother infected with HIV–the AIDS virus–faces long odds against survival. Some babies are born already infected, and the others run the risk of acquiring the virus through breast milk. Feeding a child formula avoids that hazard, but it's less healthy for the baby in other ways and more expensive for the family (see related story, http://www.sciencenews.org/20010602/note10.htm).
A study in Kenya now suggests that mothers with HIV who nurse infants are themselves more likely than formula users to die within 2 years of a child's birth. This comes as chilling news because other research has shown that if a mother dies, her baby is up to four times as likely as others to die while still a child.