Volume 87 (2011) Issue 4 Pages 152-166
In late 2010, the nation-wide screening of pregnant women for human T-lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) infection was implemented in Japan to prevent milk-borne transmission of HTLV-1. In the late 1970s, recognition of the adult T-cell leukemia (ATL) cluster in Kyushu, Japan, led to the discovery of the first human retrovirus, HTLV-1. In 1980, we started to investigate mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) for explaining the peculiar endemicity of HTLV-1. Retrospective and prospective epidemiological data revealed the MTCT rate at ∼20%. Cell-mediated transmission of HTLV-1 without prenatal infection suggested a possibility of milk-borne transmission. Common marmosets were successfully infected by oral inoculation of HTLV-1 harboring cells. A prefecture-wide intervention study to refrain from breast-feeding by carrier mothers, the ATL Prevention Program Nagasaki, was commenced in July 1987. It revealed a marked reduction of HTLV-1 MTCT by complete bottle-feeding from 20.3% to 2.5%, and a significantly higher risk of short-term breast-feeding (<6 months) than bottle-feeding (7.4% vs. 2.5%, P < 0.001).
(Communicated by Takashi SUGIMURA, M.J.A.)