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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Anemia and growth failure among HIV-infected children in India: a retrospective analysis

Anita Shet1*, Saurabh Mehta2, Nirmala Rajagopalan3, Chitra Dinakar1, Elango Ramesh4, NM Samuel5, CK Indumathi1, Wafaie W Fawzi2 and Anura V Kurpad6

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pediatrics, St John's National Academy of Health Sciences, Bangalore 560034, India

2 Departments of Nutrition and Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA

3 Freedom Foundation, Bangalore, India

4 ART Clinic, Namakkal Government Hospital, Namakkal, India

5 Concern for AIDS Research and Education, Namakkal, India

6 Division of Nutrition, St John's Research Institute, St. John's National Academy of Health Sciences, Bangalore 560034, India

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BMC Pediatrics 2009, 9:37  doi:10.1186/1471-2431-9-37

Published: 16 June 2009

Abstract

Background

Anemia and poor nutrition have been previously described as independent risk factors for death among HIV-infected children. We sought to describe nutritional status, anemia burden and HIV disease correlates among infected children in India.

Methods

We analyzed retrospective data from 248 HIV-infected children aged 1–12 years attending three outpatient clinics in South India (2004–2006). Standard WHO definitions were used for anemia, HIV staging and growth parameters. Statistical analysis included chi square, t tests, univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses.

Results

The overall prevalence of anemia (defined as hemoglobin < 11 gm/dL) was 66%, and 8% had severe anemia (Hb < 7 gm/dL). The proportion of underweight and stunted children in the population was 55% and 46% respectively. Independent risk factors of anemia by multivariate analysis included the pre-school age group (age younger than 6 years) (OR: 2.87; 95% CI: 1.45, 5.70; p < 0.01), rural residence (OR: 12.04; 95% CI: 5.64, 26.00; p < 0.01), advanced HIV disease stage (OR: 6.95; 95% CI: 3.06, 15.79; p < 0.01) and presence of stunting (Height-for-age Z Score < -2) (OR: 3.24; 95% CI: 1.65, 6.35; p < 0.01). Use of iron/multivitamin supplementation was protective against risk of anemia (OR: 0.44; 95% CI: 0.22, 0.90; p = 0.03). Pulmonary tuberculosis was an independent risk factor in multivariate analysis (OR: 3.36; 95% CI: 1.43, 7.89; p < 0.01) when correlated variables such as HIV disease stage and severe immunodeficiency, and nutritional supplement use were not included. Use of antiretroviral therapy (ART) was associated with a reduced risk of anemia (OR: 0.29; 95% CI: 0.16, 0.53; p < 0.01). No significant association was found between anemia and gender, cotrimoxazole, or ART type (zidovudine versus stavudine).

Conclusion

The high prevalence and strong interrelationship of anemia and poor nutrition among HIV-infected children in India, particularly those living in rural areas underscores the need for incorporating targeted nutritional interventions during national scale up of care, support and treatment among HIV-infected children.