Effect of Age at Antiretroviral Therapy Initiation on Catch-up Growth Within the First 24 Months Among HIV-infected Children in the IeDEA West African Pediatric Cohort

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We described malnutrition and the effect of age at antiretroviral therapy (ART) initiation on catch-up growth over 24 months among HIV-infected children enrolled in the International epidemiologic Databases to Evaluate Aids West African paediatric cohort.


Malnutrition was defined at ART initiation (baseline) by a Z score <−2 standard deviations, according to 3 anthropometric indicators: weight-for-age (WAZ) for underweight, height-for-age (HAZ) for stunting and weight-for-height/BMI-for-age (WHZ/BAZ) for wasting. Kaplan–Meier estimates for catch-up growth (Z score ≥−2 standard deviations) on ART, adjusted for gender, immunodeficiency and malnutrition at ART initiation, ART regimen, time period and country, were compared by age at ART initiation. Cox proportional hazards regression models determined predictors of catch-up growth on ART over 24 months.


Between 2001 and 2012, 2004 HIV-infected children <10 years of age were included. At ART initiation, 51% were underweight, 48% were stunted and 33% were wasted. The 24-month adjusted estimates for catch-up growth were 69% [95% confidence interval (CI): 57–80], 61% (95% CI: 47–70) and 90% (95% CI: 76–95) for WAZ, HAZ and WHZ/BAZ, respectively. Adjusted catch-up growth was more likely for children <5 years of age at ART initiation compared with children ≥5 years for WAZ, HAZ (P < 0.001) and WHZ/BAZ (P = 0.026).


Malnutrition among these children is an additional burden that has to be urgently managed. Despite a significant growth improvement after 24 months on ART, especially in children <5 years, a substantial proportion of children still never achieved catch-up growth. Nutritional care should be part of the global healthcare of HIV-infected children in sub-Saharan Africa.

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