Growth pattern in Ethiopian infants - the impact of exposure to maternal HIV infection in relation to socio-economic factors

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Infants exposed to maternal HIV infection who remain HIV-uninfected (HIV-exposed/uninfected; HIV-EU) may be at increased risk of growth retardation, which could be due both to directly HIV-related effects and to socio-economic factors overrepresented among HIV-positive women. Objective: To investigate growth development at 9-12 months of age in HIV-EU infants participating in prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) care compared to HIV unexposed (HIV-U) infants in relation to socio-economic conditions. Methods: Anthropometric and socio-economic data were collected retrospectively from PMTCT registers (for HIV-EU infants), with HIV-U controls recruited at measles vaccination at public health facilities in Ethiopia. Growth was compared with regard to HIV exposure and socio-economic variables in multivariate regression analysis. Results: The following growth measurements were found for 302 HIV-EU and 358 HIV-U infants at 9-12 months of age, respectively: mean weight-for-age z-score (WAZ) 0.04 and -0.21, p < 0.001 (proportion underweight 5.7% and 6.7%, p = 0.60); median length-forage z-score (LAZ) -0.92 and -0.91, p = 0.53 (proportion stunted 25.1% and 20.5%, p = 0.17). In multivariate analysis, lower WAZ was associated with male sex (p = 0.021), lower maternal education (p < 0.001), presence of siblings (p < 0.01) and HIV-U (p < 0.01). Underweight was associated with male sex (p = 0.017) and absence of maternal education (p = 0.019). Lower LAZ was associated with male sex (p < 0.001), presence of siblings (p < 0.001) and poor maternal education (p < 0.01), while stunting was associated with male sex (p < 0.001), presence of siblings (p < 0.001), few rooms in the home (p < 0.01), access to running water (p = 0.026) and low level of maternal education (p = 0.014). Conclusions: At 9-12 months of age, HIV-EU infants had non-inferior growth and higher mean WAZ than HIV-U controls. Poor growth development was associated with socioeconomic factors. This suggests health benefits from PMTCT participation for infant growth. Similar interventions could be considered for Ethiopian infants, irrespective of HIV exposure, with a particular focus on children with poor socio-economic status.


External organisations
  • Central Hospital Kristianstad
  • Armauer Hansen Research Institute
  • Skåne Regional Office for Infectious Disease Control and Prevention
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Infectious Medicine


  • Ethiopia, HIV-EU, Infant malnutrition, PMTCT
Original languageEnglish
Article number1296726
Pages (from-to)1-10
JournalGlobal Health Action
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017 May 4
Publication categoryResearch