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Screening for developmental disabilities in HIV positive and HIV negative children in South Africa: Results from the Asenze Study

Knox, Justin R.; Arpadi, Stephen M.; Kauchali, Shuaib; Craib, Murray; Kvalsvig, Jane D.; Bah, Fatimatou; Mellins, Claude; Davidson, Leslie L.

Background
While neurodevelopmental abnormalities are common in children with HIV infection, their detection can be challenging in settings with limited availability of health professionals. The aim of this study was to assess the ability to identify developmental disability among HIV positive and HIV negative children living in South Africa with an internationally used screen.

Methods and findings
This analysis uses a sample of 1,330 4–6 year old children and 1,231 of their caregivers in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, including administration of the Ten Questions (TQ) screen, a standardized medical history and physical examination conducted by a medical doctor, with hearing and vision screening, psychological assessment for cognition and language delay, and voluntary HIV testing. There was a high prevalence of disability among the sample. Compared to HIV negative children, HIV positive children were more likely to screen positive on at least one TQ item (59.3 vs 42.8%, p = 0.01), be delayed in sitting, standing or walking (OR 3.89, 95% CI = 2.1–7.2) and have difficulty walking or weakness in the arms or legs (OR = 2.7, 95%CI = 0.8–9.37). By medical doctor assessment, HIV positive children were more likely to be diagnosed with gross motor disability (OR = 3.5, 95%CI = 1.3–9.2) and hearing disability (OR = 2.5, 95%CI = 1.2–5.3). By independent psychological assessment, HIV positive children were more likely to have cognitive delay (OR = 2.2, 95%CI = 1.2–3.9) and language delay (OR = 4.3, 95%CI = 2.2–8.4). Among HIV positive children, the sensitivity and specificity of the TQ for serious disability (vs. no disability) was 100% and 51.2%, respectively. Among HIV-negative children, the sensitivity and specificity of the TQ for serious disability (vs. no disability) was 90.2% and 63.9%, respectively.

Conclusions
In this first report of the use of the TQ screen in the isiZulu language, it was found to have high sensitivity for detecting serious developmental disabilities in children, especially HIV positive children. The performance of the TQ in this sample indicates utility for making best use of limited neurodevelopmental resources by screening HIV positive children.

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Academic Units
Epidemiology
Pediatrics
Sociomedical Sciences
Published Here
October 26, 2018
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