Body composition changes during lactation in HIV-infected and HIV-uninfected South African women

Peggy C. Papathakis, Marta D Van Loan, Nigel C. Rollins, Caroline J Chantry, Michael L. Bennish, Kenneth H. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: The nutritional consequences of HIV infection in lactating women are unknown. OBJECTIVE: To measure the body composition of South African lactating women in relation to HIV status. METHODS: Fat-free mass (FFM) and fat mass (FM) using bioimpedance spectrometry (BIS) and anthropometric measurements were obtained at 8 and 24 weeks postpartum in 92 HIV-infected (HIVpos) and 50 HIV-uninfected (HIVneg) lactating mothers. RESULTS: At 8 weeks, HIVpos and HIVneg mothers were not significantly different in height (159.7 vs. 158.9 cm), weight (62.7 vs. 63.9 kg), body mass index (BMI; 24.6 vs. 25.3 kg/m), FFM (40.7 vs. 42.8 kg), or FM (21.6 vs. 22.0 kg), respectively. In HIVpos women, the median CD4 count was 621 (range: 101-1585) cells/μL; 95% had CD4 counts >200 cells/μL. Between 8 and 24 weeks, HIVpos mothers had a mean weight loss of 1.4 kg in contrast to a 0.4-kg weight gain in HIVneg mothers (P < 0.01). There were no significant group differences with regard to change in FFM (0.3 vs. 0.1 kg; P = 0.9) and FM (-1.5 vs. -0.3 kg; P = 0.2). CONCLUSION: HIVpos South African breast-feeding mothers without severe immune suppression lost weight and subcutaneous fat between 8 and 24 weeks postpartum, whereas HIVneg mothers gained weight. FFM was maintained postpartum in HIVpos and HIVneg mothers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)467-474
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2006


  • Body composition
  • Breast-feeding
  • Fat mass
  • Fat-free mass
  • HIV
  • Lactation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology
  • Immunology


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