5. Original Scientific Paper

Background & Aims: BMI has been reported to be relatively low amongst Thalassemia patients and majority of the published work has emanated from the developed western world. Owing to scarcity of auxological information, this study aimed to study the pattern of BMI in transfusion dependent β-thalassemia children of north-western Indian origin.

Methods: 407 boys and 158 girls diagnosed cases of β-Thalassemia major between 1-20 years were enrolled from ‘Thalassemia Blood Transfusion Unit’ of Department of Pediatrics, PGIMER, India. Each patient was measured for weight and length/height at six monthly age intervals in Growth Laboratory/Growth Clinic of the institute. Mean (SD) BMI was computed for thalassemia patients at each age level. Gender differences were assessed using unpaired Student’s t-test.

Results: Mean BMI of male and female β-Thalassemia children was 15.8±1.26kg/m2 and 16.0±1.11kg/m2 at 1 year and it increased to 17.8±2.10kg/m2 and 18.3±1.7kg/m2 at 20 years, respectively. Gender differences remained statistically non-significant. Pattern-wise, these children showed close resemblance to normal American children (CDC 2000) upto 4-5 years. BMI curves ran around 25th percentile till 10 years. After that, BMI curves demonstrated downward divergence. BMI impairment in male children increased with advancement of age making them underweight (<5th percentile) after 15 years.

Conclusions: Impaired BMI attainments not only speak of poor growth and nutrition status of β-Thalassemia patients despite regular blood transfusions but also call for timely institution of medical, surgical and other appropriate interventions to improve their growth and overall health status.

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