Duration of hospitalization and appetite of HIV-infected South African children

Siyazi Mda*, Joop M.A. van Raaij, Una E. Macintyre, François P.R. de Villiers, Frans J. Kok

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected children generally show poor growth. Episodes of diarrhoea and pneumonia in HIV-infected children are thought to be more severe than in HIV-uninfected children. The objective of this study was to compare duration of hospitalization, appetite and nutritional status of HIV-infected children with that of uninfected children. A cross-sectional study was performed on children (2-24 months) admitted with diarrhoea or pneumonia to the university hospital. Children were tested for HIV, and the duration of hospitalization was noted for 189 children. Follow-up for blood analysis (n=154) and appetite measurement (n=48) was performed 4-8 weeks after discharge. Appetite was measured as ad libitum intake of a commercial infant cereal using highly standardized procedures. Hospitalization (in days) was significantly longer in HIV-infected children; among children admitted with diarrhoea (5.9±1.9 vs. 3.8±1.5) (mean±standard deviation) and with pneumonia (9.0±2.5 vs. 5.9±1.9). Serum zinc, iron and transferrin concentrations, and haemoglobin levels were significantly lower in HIV-infected children compared with uninfected children. Appetites [amounts eaten (g) per kg body weight] of HIV-infected children were significantly poorer than those of HIV-uninfected children (18.6±5.8 vs. 25.2±7.4). The eating rates (gmin-1) of HIV-infected children were also slower (17.6±6.2 vs. 10.1±3.7) Mean Z-scores for length-for-age were significantly lower among HIV-infected children compared with HIV-uninfected children. Weight-for-length Z-scores were not significantly different. In summary, HIV-infected children had a 55% longer duration of hospitalization and a 21% lower appetite.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-187
Number of pages13
JournalMaternal and Child Nutrition
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011


  • Appetite
  • Length of hospitalization
  • Nutritional status


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