In a crucial investigation, professionals at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have revealed that pre-natal exposure to HIV may be tied to childhood hearing loss. According to the team, children exposed to the HIV virus while in the womb may encounter hearing loss by 16 years of age, unlike non-infected kids.

The results showed that HIV-positive children faced 200 to 300% risks of hearing loss, than normal counterparts. Even in case of kids free from HIV but whose mothers contracted HIV during conception, the risk factor approximated to 20%.

“Children exposed to HIV before birth are at higher risk for hearing difficulty, and it’s important for them―and the health providers who care for them―to be aware of this,” shared George K. Siberry, M.D., of the Pediatric, Adolescent, and Maternal AIDS Branch of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the NIH institute that leads the research network.

The aforesaid outcomes were observed in a trial conducted with kids aged between 7 and 16. Reported in the journal, The Pediatric Infectious Disease, the findings highlighted the importance of gauging subtle hearing problems in kids. Ear issues could lead to long term conditions such as speech difficulties, the scientists believed.

The crucial point in this study is that kids who did not suffer from HIV, but had mothers acquiring the virus during pregnancy also carried greater risks of hearing loss. As per rough estimations, about 9 to 15% of HIV-positive kids experience hearing loss.