Objectives: To describe and to evaluate the longitudinal growth of children born to mothers with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection.
Design: Measurements of weight, length (measured in infants in a recumbent position) and height (measured in older children in an upright position), and head circumference were documented and evaluated longitudinally using generalized estimating equations in a group of children born to HIV-infected mothers. Children infected with HIV were compared with uninfected children and with National Center for Health Statistics standards.
Setting: Primary care clinic in an urban hospital devoted to the medical care of children born to HIV-infected mothers.
Patients: One hundred nine children born to HIV-infected mothers, 59 HIV-infected and 50 uninfected, between birth and 70 months of age.
Results: The mean birth weights of both groups were below the 50th percentile. While the mean weight-for-age curve of uninfected children attained the 50th percentile by age 24 months, the mean birth weight-for-age curve of HIV-infected children remained below the 50th percentile. Weight gain became significantly different between the two groups by age 36 months. The mean birth length-for-age curves of HIV-infected and uninfected children was also below the 50th percentile. The mean height-for-age curve of uninfected children attained the 50th percentile by age 40 months, while that of HIV-infected children remained well below the 50th percentile. Linear growth between HIV-infected and uninfected children diverged earlier than weight, becoming significantly different by age 15 months.
Conclusions: Although children born to HIV-infected mothers are born with weight and length below the 50th percentile, uninfected children catch up, while HIV-infected children remain below the 50th percentile and experience an earlier and more pronounced decrease in linear growth (height-for-age) than in weight-for-age.