New paper available online

Our new paper on infant malnutrition in Botswana is now available online. The paper examines levels of stunting, wasting and underweight in infants aged 6-24 months recruited in four regions of the country. Participants were grouped according to HIV status of the mothers, giving a population of infants not exposed to HIV and infants who were not themselves HIV infected, but whose mothers were HIV positive. We found that HIV-exposed infants were more likely to be underweight and stunted and that these children were also predominantly formula fed. Factors relating to the environment before birth also had a clear impact upon risk of malnutrition.

 

Birthweight, HIV exposure and infant feeding as predictors of malnutrition in Botswanan infants

Chalashika et al., JHND Early View

Background

A better understanding of the nutritional status of infants who are HIV-Exposed-Uninfected (HEU) and HIV-Unexposed-Uninfected (HUU) during their first 1000 days is key to improving population health, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.

Methods

A cross-sectional study compared the nutritional status, feeding practices and determinants of nutritional status of HEU and HUU infants residing in representative selected districts in Botswana during their first 1000 days of life. Four hundred and thirteen infants (37.3% HIV-exposed), aged 6–24 months, attending routine child health clinics, were recruited. Anthropometric, 24-h dietary intake and socio-demographic data was collected. Anthropometric Z-scores were calculated using 2006 World Health Organization growth standards. Modelling of the determinants of malnutrition was undertaken using logistic regression.

Results

Overall, the prevalences of stunting, wasting and being underweight were 10.4%, 11.9% and 10.2%, respectively. HEU infants were more likely to be underweight (15.6% versus 6.9%), (P < 0.01) and stunted (15.6% versus 7.3%), (P < 0.05) but not wasted (P = 0.14) than HUU infants. HEU infants tended to be formula fed (82.5%), whereas HUU infants tended to breastfeed (94%) for the first 6 months (P < 0.001). Significant predictors of nutritional status were HIV exposure, birthweight, birth length, APGAR (appearance, pulse, grimace, activity and respiration) score and mother/caregiver’s education with little influence of socio-economic status.

Conclusions

HEU infants aged 6–24 months had worse nutritional status compared to HUU infants. Low birthweight was the main predictor of undernutrition in this population. Optimisation of infant nutritional status should focus on improving birthweight. In addition, specific interventions should target HEU infants aiming to eliminate growth disparity between HEU and HUU infants.

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