Cardiac differences in infants born to HIV-positive mothers may persist

The hearts of children whose mothers are infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) show subtle differences in cardiac structure and function by echocardiogram regardless of whether the children are born infected with HIV. New results from a five-year, multicenter study indicate that, on average, these children are born with hearts that are larger than those of healthy children born to healthy mothers and that may not pump as effectively. The authors found the abnormalities to be initially mild and asymptomatic; they report that the changes appear to persist - and, in some cases, even worsen -- in children born infected with HIV. The long-term cardiac consequences in uninfected children born to HIV-positive mothers are unknown.

The results are from a long-term pediatric AIDS study of more than 500 children - the first of its size to examine cardiovascular structure and function -- supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and the National Center for Research Resources, both part of the National Institutes of Health. The findings will be posted on the Lancet's Website (www.thelancet.com) June 17 and will be printed in a future issue of the journal.

"These results reinforce the importance of careful follow-up and the need to be alert to the possibility of cardiac complications when caring for children born to HIV-infected mothers," said NHLBI Director Dr. Claude Lenfant.

In 1998, between 6,000 and 7,000 births by HIV-infected women were reported in the United States, with approximately 380 children born infected with HIV, according to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Current guidelines from the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) recommend long-term follow-up of all children born to mothers infected with HIV.

The Pediatric Pulmonary and Cardiovascular Complications of Vertically Transmitted HIV Infection (P2C2 HIV) Study assessed heart struc

Contact: NHLBI Communications Office
NIH/National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

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