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Toddlers Taking HIV Drugs Have Higher Cholesterol

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Toddlers who take anti-HIV drugs have higher cholesterol levels than those who do not have HIV, a new study shows.

It's the first such finding in toddlers and the long-term significance is unknown, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health researchers and colleagues.

They reviewed the medical records of 764 children who had been exposed to HIV in the womb. Of the 83 who were infected with HIV, 59 percent were receiving anti-HIV drugs during the time they were in the study.

The highest average cholesterol levels (169 milligrams per deciliter of blood) were found in children taking a anti-HIV drugs called protease inhibitors. Average cholesterol levels were 147 mg/dL for children taking other anti-HIV drugs and 122 mg/dL for children who weren't taking any anti-HIV drugs.

The researchers also found that 10.8 percent of HIV-positive toddlers had cholesterol levels above 200 mg/dL, which is two times higher than among toddlers without HIV. This level is considered borderline high risk for developing heart disease.

It's likely that HIV-infected children will be taking anti-HIV drugs for their entire lives, noted lead author Dr. Rohan Hazra of the Pediatric, Adolescent and Maternal Health Branch of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

"Our findings suggest that it would be a good idea for young children taking protease inhibitors to have their cholesterol monitored periodically to determine whether they face any increased risk of heart disease as they grow older," Hazra said in an NIH news release.

The study appears in the journal AIDS.

Previous studies have found that adults and older children who take protease inhibitors also develop high cholesterol levels.

More information

The New Mexico AIDS Education and Training Center has more about HIV and children.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: U.S. National Institutes of Health, news release, Nov. 21, 2011

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