Steatorrhea prevalent in HIV-positive children; clinical significance unclear

Steatorrhea is prevalent among children with HIV infection, but the clinical significance of this is still unclear, researchers report in the February issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

Dr. Timothy A. Sentongo of Children’s Memorial Medical Center in Chicago and lead author of the report told Reuters Health that his “original interest was to determine and confirm whether pancreatic insufficiency was an important complication in children with HIV infection.” Reports in the literature have referred to pancreatic dysfunction in HIV infection, he explained, “but I couldn’t find good science to back this.”

In their cross-sectional study of 44 children with perinatally acquired HIV, Dr. Sentongo and colleagues discovered that 39% of the cohort had steatorrhea. However, no associations between steatorrhea, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, growth, HIV RNA viral load, CD4+ status or antiviral therapy regimen emerged.

“We failed to find pancreatic insufficiency in any of our subjects,” Dr. Sentongo said. “There were some interesting growth trends that we observed,” namely decreased z scores for height in older children.

“I hope the myth about pancreatic insufficiency in children with HIV infection is settled, so that people can now focus on the other unresolved problems these children face,” the researcher added.


Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 2001;155:149-153.

Source: Reuters Health

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