Original Research

Weight gain in children from birth to 10 years on antiretroviral treatment

Janine Scholtz, Susanna M. Ellis, Herculina S. Kruger
Southern African Journal of HIV Medicine | Vol 23, No 1 | a1413 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhivmed.v23i1.1413 | © 2022 Janine Scholtz, Susanna M. Ellis, Herculina S. Kruger | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 13 June 2022 | Published: 28 October 2022

About the author(s)

Janine Scholtz, Centre of Excellence for Nutrition, Faculty of Health Sciences, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Susanna M. Ellis, Department of Pure and Applied Analytics, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Herculina S. Kruger, Centre of Excellence for Nutrition, Faculty of Health Sciences, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa; and, Medical Research Council Unit for Hypertension and Cardiovascular Disease, Faculty of Health Sciences, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Inadequate weight gain could indicate clinical deterioration in infants and children living with HIV (CLHIV). The World Health Organization’s (WHO) weight-for-age z-score (WAZ) growth standards and reference charts are currently used in South Africa to assess weight gain in CLHIV on antiretroviral treatment (ART).

Objectives: To assess weight gain patterns of infants and children initiated on ART and to compare weight gain patterns between the WHO WAZ growth standards and population-specific curves constructed from data of CLHIV on ART.

Method: A quantitative, retrospective and descriptive-comparative design was used. The weight gain patterns of 98 infants and children from birth to 10 years old during the 24-month period following ART initiation were recorded and assessed using two different growth charts.

Results: The children’s rate of weight and length gain improved significantly over 24 months since ART initiation, but complete catch-up growth was never achieved. Most (69%) of the children had increased weight gain according to the WAZ growth standard and reference charts versus only 16% according to the HIV-specific weight gain curves.

Conclusion: Antiretroviral treatment improved weight and height gain in CLHIV, but the interpretations of weight gain differed significantly between the WHO chart and HIV-specific weight gain curves. Population- and treatment-specific references could improve weight monitoring in CLHIV and assist in the timeous identification of malnutrition.


Keywords

HIV; infants; children; weight; height; ART; growth monitoring; nutritional assessment; WAZ; catch-up growth

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