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Long-term growth and anthropometry after childhood liver transplantation.

OBJECTIVES: To describe longitudinal height, weight, and body mass index changes up to 15 years after childhood liver transplantation.

STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective chart review of patients who underwent liver transplant from 1985-2004 was performed. Subjects were age <18 years at transplant, survived ≥5 years, with at least 2 recorded measurements, of which one was ≥5 years post-transplant. Measurements were recorded pre-transplant, 1, 5, 10, and 15 years later.

RESULTS: Height and weight data were available in 98 and 104 patients, respectively; 47% were age <2 years at transplant; 58% were Australian, and the rest were from Japan. Height recovery continued for at least 10 years to reach the 26th percentile (Z-score -0.67) 15 years after transplant. Australians had better growth recovery and attained 47th percentile (Z-score -0.06) at 15 years. Weight recovery was most marked in the first year and continued for 15 years even in well-nourished children. Growth impaired and malnourished children at transplant exhibited the best growth, but remained significantly shorter and lighter even 15 years later. No effect of sex or age at transplant was noted on height or weight recovery. Post-transplant factors significantly impact growth recovery and likely caused the dichotomous growth recovery between Australian and Japanese children; 9% (9/98) of patients were overweight on body mass index calculations at 10-15 years but none were obese.

CONCLUSIONS: After liver transplant, children can expect ongoing height and weight recovery for at least 10-15 years. Growth impairment at transplant and post-transplant care significantly impact long-term growth recovery.

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