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Anti-HIV Medications can Hurt Infants’ Hearts

Update Date: Nov 22, 2014 09:09 AM EST

Drugs to treat HIV-positive pregnant women can effectively prevent the transmission of the virus to the fetus. However, a new study conducted by the research team from Wayne State University and Children's Hospital of Michigan, Detroit Medical Center is reporting that the drugs can lead to long-term heart problems for the infant.

"What our study indicates is that there's potentially a long-term price to be paid for protecting the children of HIV-infected mothers from the virus," said Steven E. Lipshultz, M.D., pediatrician-in-chief at the Children's Hospital of Michigan and chair of pediatrics for the Wayne State University School of Medicine reported in the press release. "These medicines have been very effective at reducing the rate of transmission of HIV from mother to child, but the findings we've just published show clearly that further investigation of their long-term impact on the heart health of the children involved is needed."

In this study, the researchers compared the heart health of 428 HIV-negative children born to HIV-positive mothers to children who were not born to mothers with HIV. The data covered the time period from 2007 to 2012. Overall, the researchers discovered that children born to HIV-infected mothers had slower heart muscle development as well as impaired pumping ability when compared to children from the control group.

"These findings clearly indicate the need for further study," said Dr. Lipshultz. "Subclinical differences in left ventricular structure and function with specific in-utero antiviral exposures indicate the need for a longitudinal study to assess long-term cardiac risk and cardiac monitoring recommendations."

The study was published in the journal, AIDS.

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