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Logo of bmcpediBioMed Centralsearchsubmit a manuscriptregisterthis articleBMC Pediatrics
 
BMC Pediatr. 2012; 12: 68.
Published online Jun 14, 2012. doi:  10.1186/1471-2431-12-68
PMCID: PMC3441289
Swallowing abnormalities in HIV infected children: an important cause of morbidity
Etienne D Nelcorresponding author#1 and Alida Ellis#2
1Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Academic Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa
2Speech and Hearing Department, Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Academic Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa
corresponding authorCorresponding author.
#Contributed equally.
Etienne D Nel: edn/at/sun.ac.za; Alida Ellis: aellis/at/sun.ac.za
Received November 1, 2011; Accepted June 5, 2012.
Abstract
Background
Swallowing disorders, well recognised in adults, contribute to HIV-infection morbidity. Little data however is available for HIV-infected children. The purpose of this study is to describe swallowing disorders in a group of HIV-infected children in Africa after the introduction of combined anti-retroviral therapy.
Methods
We describe 25 HIV-infected children referred for possible swallowing disorders. Clinical and videofluoroscopic assessment of swallowing (VFSS), HIV stage, and respiratory and neurological examination were recorded.
Results
Median age was 8 months (range 2.8-92) and 15 (60%) were male. Fifteen (60%) were referred for recurrent respiratory complaints, 4 (16%) for poor growth, 4 (16%) for poor feeding and 2 (8%) patients for respiratory complaints and either poor growth or feeding. Twenty patients (80%) had clinical evidence of swallowing abnormalities: 11 (44%) in the oral phase, 4 (16%) in the pharyngeal phase, and 5 (25%) in both the oral and pharyngeal phases. Thirteen patients had a videofluoroscopic assessment of which 6 (46%) where abnormal. Abnormalities were detected in the oral phase in 2, in the pharyngeal phase in 3, and in the oral and pharyngeal phase in 1; all of these patients also had evidence of respiratory involvement. Abnormal swallowing occurred in 85% of children with central nervous system disease. CNS disease was due to HIV encephalopathy (8) and miscellaneous central nervous system diseases (5). Three of 4 (75%) patients with thrush had an abnormal oral phase on assessment. No abnormalities of the oesophagus were found.
Conclusions
This report highlights the importance of swallowing disorders in HIV infected children. Most patients have functional rather than structural or mucosal abnormalities. VFSS makes an important contribution to the diagnosis and management of these patients.
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