Intrauterine HIV exposure is associated with linear growth restriction among Ethiopian children in the first 18 months of life

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Objective: The role of HIV exposure in determining growth among HIV-uninfected children is debated. We determined whether intrauterine HIV exposure influences linear growth in a cohort of Ethiopian children followed up to 18 months of age in public health facilities in Adama city, Ethiopia. Methods: Participants were offspring of pregnant women enrolled in a prospective cohort study that included screening for HIV infection during antenatal care. Growth patterns of HIV-exposed and uninfected (HEU) and HIV-unexposed (HU) children were compared up to 18 months of age, with length-for-age z-score (LAZ) and proportion with stunting as primary outcomes. Multivariable linear and logistic regression models were constructed to investigate the associations between HIV exposure and linear growth, controlling for socio-demographic factors and breastfeeding status. Results: Of 1705 included infants (164 HEU), 1276 remained in follow-up at 18 months. Among HIV-positive mothers, 132 (80.5%) were receiving antiretroviral therapy at enrolment. At the 18-month visit, mean LAZ was −1.08 among HEU children and −0.74 among HU children (p = 0.052). Proportions of HEU and HU children with stunting at the 18-month visit were 27.8% and 18.7%, respectively (p = 0.010). In multivariable models, HIV exposure was associated with lower LAZ at all follow-up visits, and with stunting at the 18-month visit (adjusted odds ratio 2.29, 95% confidence interval 1.40–3.71). HIV exposure was not associated with weight-related growth outcomes. Conclusions: HEU children in Ethiopia had inferior linear growth compared with HU children, implying that intrauterine HIV exposure impacts early childhood growth in this setting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)823-830
JournalTropical Medicine and International Health
Issue number9
Early online date2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Pediatrics
  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology

Free keywords

  • child
  • growth
  • HIV
  • length
  • nutrition
  • stunting
  • uninfected


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