HIV Exposure Increases Risk Of Hearing Loss In Children

by | Jun 27, 2016 | news

HIV Exposure Increases Risk Of Hearing Loss In Children

While the child of a pregnant woman with HIV is potentially at risk for a myriad of health issues, advances in medicine today have proven that these women can give birth to healthy children. But new research is showing that these kids could have hearing problems that weren’t originally predicted.

Higher Rates Of Hearing Loss In Children With HIV

A study conducted by the National Institute of Health examined more than 200 children between the ages of 7 and 16 who had been exposed to HIV while in the womb. Published online in The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal, the study found that HIV-infected children will suffer hearing loss at a rate of about 9-15%, while those who were born to HIV positive mothers but don’t have the virus themselves suffer hearing loss at a rate of 5-8%.

200-300% Greater Risk Of Hearing Loss

These numbers may not strike you as being particularly high, but in fact, they are very significant. Compared to the average child between ages 7-16, a child with HIV has a 200-300% greater risk of having hearing impairment. For those children with HIV positive mothers but who don’t have HIV themselves, their risk for hearing loss is 20% greater than kids who were born to healthy mothers.

The Problem Is With Sound Transmission

It was originally thought that the hearing loss suffered by children with HIV was a result of repeated inner ear infections, which these children are prone to suffer. However, this new study conducted out of San Diego State University showed that in 60 percent of cases, the problem with hearing was not the result of infections, or damage to the inner ear as a result of those infections. Rather, the problem came from the transmission of sound from the ear to the brain.

Research Is Ongoing

While the reason for diminished transmission between impulses between the ear and the brain has not yet been determined, knowing where to look for the problem is a good start, and research is ongoing in this area.

Hearing Loss In Children Leads To Other Problems

For children, hearing loss is of particular concern because it can interfere with their language skills, social and behavioral development and learning in school. Also, we know that children are not reliable at recognizing when they have hearing loss, and they don’t bring their hearing loss to the attention of adults who can help manage the problem and get them the help they need.

A Pediatric Audiologist Is Your Best Ally

pediatric audiologist is your best ally in keeping your child’s hearing healthy. An experienced audiologist will be able to regularly test your child’s hearing and note any changes, help diagnose where the change may have come from, and recommend an appropriate course of action for treatment, including hearing aids.

If you know a child who may have been exposed to an infection while in the womb, or a child who has displayed delayed learning in school, they could have a treatable hearing impairment, and treating it would make all the difference in their lives.

Call an experienced pediatric audiologist today to get your child’s hearing tested, and make sure that they are hearing their best – now and in the future. 

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Dr. Ana Anzola, CCC-A, FAAA, ABA Principal

Dr. Anzola received her Doctorate degree in Audiology (AuD) from the Arizona School of Health Sciences, and her Master’s Degree in Audiology and her Bachelor's Degree in Speech Language Pathology and Audiology from Towson University. She has been a fellow of the American Academy of Audiology (AAA) since 1995, board-certified by the American Board of Audiology (ABA), and certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).

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