Predictors of growth and body composition in HIV-infected children beginning or changing antiretroviral therapy


Dr Caroline J. Chantry, Department of Pediatrics, University of California Davis Medical Center, 2516 Stockton Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95817, USA. Tel: +1 916 734 4455; fax: +1 916 456 2236; e-mail:



The aim of the study was to describe growth and body composition changes in HIV-positive children after they had initiated or changed antiretroviral therapy (ART) and to correlate these with viral, immune and treatment parameters.


Ninety-seven prepubertal HIV-positive children were observed over 48 weeks upon beginning or changing ART. Anthropometry and bioelectrical impedance analysis results were compared with results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999–2002 (NHANES) to generate z-scores and with results for HIV-exposed, uninfected children from the Women and Infants Transmission Study (WITS). Multivariate analysis was used to evaluate associations between growth and body composition and disease parameters.


All baseline lean and fat mass measures were below those of controls from NHANES. Weight, height and fat free mass (FFM) index (FFM/height2) z-scores increased over time (P=0.004, 0.037 and 0.027, respectively) and the waist:height ratio z-score decreased (P=0.045), but body mass index and per cent body fat z-scores did not change. Measures did not increase more than in uninfected WITS controls. In multivariate analysis, baseline height, mid-thigh circumference and FFM z-scores related to CD4 percentage (P=0.029, P=0.008 and 0.020, respectively) and change in FFM and FFM index z-scores to CD4 percentage increase (P=0.010 and 0.011, respectively). Compared with WITS controls, baseline differences in height and mid-thigh muscle circumference were also associated with CD4 percentage. Case–control differences in change in both subscapular skinfold (SSF) thickness and the SSF:triceps skinfold ratio were inversely associated with viral suppression. No measures related to ART class(es) at baseline or over time.


In these HIV-positive children, beginning or changing ART was associated with improved growth and lean body mass (LBM), as indicated by FFM index. Height and LBM related to CD4 percentage at baseline and over time. Altered fat distribution and greater central adiposity were associated with detectable virus but not ART class(es) received.