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Matern Child Nutr. 2011 Apr;7(2):175-87. doi: 10.1111/j.1740-8709.2009.00228.x.

Duration of hospitalization and appetite of HIV-infected South African children.

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  • 1Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Limpopo, Medunsa Campus, Pretoria, South Africa. siyazi.mda@wur.nl

Abstract

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected children generally show poor growth. Episodes of diarrhoea and pneumonia in HIV-infected children are thought to be more severe than in HIV-uninfected children. The objective of this study was to compare duration of hospitalization, appetite and nutritional status of HIV-infected children with that of uninfected children. A cross-sectional study was performed on children (2-24 months) admitted with diarrhoea or pneumonia to the university hospital. Children were tested for HIV, and the duration of hospitalization was noted for 189 children. Follow-up for blood analysis (n=154) and appetite measurement (n=48) was performed 4-8 weeks after discharge. Appetite was measured as ad libitum intake of a commercial infant cereal using highly standardized procedures. Hospitalization (in days) was significantly longer in HIV-infected children; among children admitted with diarrhoea (5.9 ± 1.9 vs. 3.8 ± 1.5) (mean ± standard deviation) and with pneumonia (9.0 ± 2.5 vs. 5.9 ± 1.9). Serum zinc, iron and transferrin concentrations, and haemoglobin levels were significantly lower in HIV-infected children compared with uninfected children. Appetites [amounts eaten (g) per kg body weight] of HIV-infected children were significantly poorer than those of HIV-uninfected children (18.6 ± 5.8 vs. 25.2 ± 7.4). The eating rates (g min(-1) ) of HIV-infected children were also slower (17.6 ± 6.2 vs. 10.1 ± 3.7) Mean Z-scores for length-for-age were significantly lower among HIV-infected children compared with HIV-uninfected children. Weight-for-length Z-scores were not significantly different. In summary, HIV-infected children had a 55% longer duration of hospitalization and a 21% lower appetite.

© 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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