Background: Growth failure is a common complication in children with beta-thalassemia major (β-TM) that has persisted despite major treatment advances. It could stem from malnutrition, especially in those who live in poor countries and who have inadequate nutrient intake.
Aim: The aim of this study was to assess the influence of nutrition on growth, total body composition, and metabolic profile in Egyptian children with β-TM.
Subjects and methods: This cross-sectional study included 200 children with β-TM and 50 age-matched and sex-matched healthy children. All subjects underwent full clinical assessment, which included assessment of growth and total body composition using anthropometric measurements (weight, height, mid-arm circumference, skinfold thickness, and body mass index) and bioelectric impedance analysis device (TANITA SC330). Nutritional assessment was performed using 24-hour dietary recall. Fasting serum insulin, C-peptide, and fasting serum lipid profile (high-density lipoprotein, low-density lipoprotein, cholesterol, and triglyceride) were measured.
Results: Children with β-TM had a significantly lower mean value of the daily consumption of the studied nutrient elements including kilocalories, protein, carbohydrate, calcium, and phosphorus (P<0.001). β-TM had a negative impact on anthropometric measures; the mean of all measurements recorded in children with β-TM was significantly lower than that in the control group (P<0.001). Children with β-TM had a significant abnormality in lipid profile, with higher triglyceride levels and lower cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein, and high-density lipoprotein than controls. They had significantly lower serum insulin and C-peptide. Age, sex, serum ferritin, and caloric intake have a significant impact on body composition in children with β-TM.
Conclusion: Regular assessment of nutrition is crucial for the health of children with β-TM.