Weight and height z-scores improve after initiating ART among HIV-infected children in rural Zambia: a cohort study
1 Department of Epidemiology, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA
2 Macha Research Trust, Macha Hospital, Choma, Zambia
BMC Infectious Diseases 2011, 11:54 doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-54Published: 1 March 2011
Deficits in growth observed in HIV-infected children in resource-poor settings can be reversed with antiretroviral treatment (ART). However, many of the studies have been conducted in urban areas with older pediatric populations. This study was undertaken to evaluate growth patterns after ART initiation in a young pediatric population in rural Zambia with a high prevalence of undernutrition.
Between 2007 and 2009, 193 HIV-infected children were enrolled in a cohort study in Macha, Zambia. Children were evaluated every 3 months, at which time a questionnaire was administered, height and weight were measured, and blood specimens were collected. Weight- and height-for-age z-scores were constructed from WHO growth standards. All children receiving ART at enrollment or initiating ART during the study were included in this analysis. Linear mixed effects models were used to model trajectories of weight and height-for-age z-scores.
A high proportion of study children were underweight (59%) and stunted (72%) at treatment initiation. Improvements in both weight- and height-for-age z-scores were observed, with weight-for-age z-scores increasing during the first 6 months of treatment and then stabilizing, and height-for-age z-scores increasing consistently over time. Trajectories of weight-for-age z-scores differed by underweight status at treatment initiation, with children who were underweight experiencing greater increases in z-scores in the first 6 months of treatment. Trajectories of height-for-age z-scores differed by age, with children older than 5 years of age experiencing smaller increases over time.
Some of the effects of HIV on growth were reversed with ART initiation, although a high proportion of children remained underweight and stunted after two years of treatment. Partnerships between treatment and nutrition programs should be explored so that HIV-infected children can receive optimal nutritional support.