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      Anthropometry at discharge and risk of relapse in children treated for severe acute malnutrition: a prospective cohort study in rural Nepal

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          Abstract

          Background

          There is a dearth of evidence on what should be the optimal criteria for discharging children from severe acute malnutrition (SAM) treatment. Programs discharging children while they are still presenting varying levels of weight-for-height (WHZ) or mid-upper-arm circumference (MUAC) deficits, such as those implemented under the current national protocol in Nepal, are opportunities to fill this evidence gap.

          Methods

          We followed a cohort of children discharged as cured from SAM treatment in Parasi district, Nepal. Relapse as SAM, defined as the occurrence of WHZ<-3 or MUAC < 115 mm or nutritional edema, was investigated through repeated home visits, during six months after discharge. We assessed the contribution of remaining anthropometric deficits at discharge to relapse risk through Cox regressions.

          Results

          Relapse as SAM during follow-up was observed in 33 % of the cohort (35/108). Being discharged before reaching the internationally recommended criteria was overall associated with a large increase in the risk of relapse (HR = 3.3; p = 0.006). Among all anthropometric indicators at discharge, WHZ<-2 led to a three-fold increase in relapse risk (HR = 3.2; p = 0.003), while MUAC < 125 mm significantly raised it only in the older children. WHZ<-2 at discharge came up as the only significant predictor of relapse in multivariate analysis (HR = 2.8, p = 0.01), even among children with a MUAC ≥ 125 mm. Of note, more than 80 % of the events of relapse as SAM would have been missed if WHZ had not been monitored and used in the definition of relapse.

          Conclusions

          Our results suggest that the priority for SAM management programs should be to ensure that children reach a high level of WHZ at discharge, at least above or equal to the WHO recommended cut-off. The validity of using a single MUAC cut-off such as 125 mm as a suitable discharge criterion for all age groups is questioned. Further follow-up studies providing a complete assessment of nutritional status at discharge and not based on a restricted MUAC-only definition of relapse as SAM would be urgently needed to set evidence-based discharge criteria. These studies are also required to assess programs currently discounting or omitting WHZ for identification and management of SAM.

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          Most cited references4

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          Concurrent wasting and stunting among under‐five children in Niakhar, Senegal

          Abstract The study describes the patterns of concurrent wasting and stunting (WaSt) among children age 6–59 months living in the 1980s in Niakhar, a rural area of Senegal under demographic surveillance. Wasting and stunting were defined by z scores lower than −2 in weight for height and height for age. Both conditions were found to be highly prevalent, wasting more so before age 30 months, stunting more so after age 30 months. As a result, concurrent WaSt peaked around age 18 months and its prevalence (6.2%) was primarily the product of the two conditions, with an interaction term of 1.57 (p < 10−6). The interaction was due to the correlation between both conditions (more stunting if wasted, more wasting if stunted). Before age 30 months, boys were more likely to be concurrently wasted and stunted than girls (RR = 1.61), but the sex difference disappeared after 30 months of age. The excess susceptibility of younger boys could not be explained by muscle mass or fat mass measured by arm or muscle circumference, triceps, or subscapular skinfold. Concurrent WaSt was a strong risk factor for child mortality, and its effect was the product of the independent effect of each component, with no significant interaction.
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            The development of MUAC-for-age reference data recommended by a WHO Expert Committee.

            Low mid-upper-arm circumference (MUAC), determined on the basis of a fixed cut-off value, has commonly been used as a proxy for low weight-for-height (wasting). The use of a fixed cut-off value was based on the observation that MUAC showed small age- and sex-specific differences. However, in 1993, a WHO Expert Committee concluded that age independence is not reflected in the true pattern of mid-upper arm growth, recommended the use of MUAC-for-age, and presented age- and sex-specific MUAC reference data developed with observations obtained from a representative sample of children in the USA aged 6-59 months. In this article, we explain the methodology for the development of these data, present age- and sex-specific growth curves and tables and discuss the applications and limitations of MUAC as a nutritional indicator. To develop the reference data, estimates were first obtained for the mean and standard deviation of MUAC for each month of age using 7-month segmental regression equations; a 5th-degree and a 3rd-degree polynomial in age was then used to describe the mean and standard deviation, respectively, of MUAC-for age. These curves show important age-specific differences, and significant sex-specific differences for boys and girls < 24 months of age. Correct interpretation of MUAC with regard to nutritional status requires the use of MUAC-for-age reference data such as those presented here.
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              Relapse after severe acute malnutrition: A systematic literature review and secondary data analysis

              Abstract The objectives of most treatment programs for severe acute malnutrition (SAM) in children focus on initial recovery only, leaving post‐discharge outcomes, such as relapse, poorly understood and undefined. This study aimed to systematically review current literature and conduct secondary data analyses of studies that captured relapse rates, up to 18‐month post‐discharge, in children following recovery from SAM treatment. The literature search (including PubMed and Google Scholar) built upon two recent reviews to identify a variety of up‐to‐date published studies and grey literature. This search yielded 26 articles and programme reports that provided information on relapse. The proportion of children who relapsed after SAM treatment varied greatly from 0% to 37% across varying lengths of time following discharge. The lack of a standard definition of relapse limited comparability even among the few studies that have quantified post‐discharge relapse. Inconsistent treatment protocols and poor adherence to protocols likely add to the wide range of relapse reported. Secondary analysis of a database from Malawi found no significant association between potential individual risk factors at admission and discharge, except being an orphan, which resulted in five times greater odds of relapse at 6 months post‐discharge (95% CI [1.7, 12.4], P = 0.003). The development of a standard definition of relapse is needed for programme implementers and researchers. This will allow for assessment of programme quality regarding sustained recovery and better understanding of the contribution of relapse to local and global burden of SAM.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                bguesdon@actioncontrelafaim.org
                Journal
                Nutr J
                Nutr J
                Nutrition Journal
                BioMed Central (London )
                1475-2891
                5 April 2021
                5 April 2021
                2021
                : 20
                Affiliations
                [1 ]GRID grid.452229.a, ISNI 0000 0004 0643 9612, Action Against Hunger | Action Contre la Faim (ACF) - France, ; 14-16 Boulevard Douaumont, 75854 Paris, France
                [2 ]Action Against Hunger | Action Contre la Faim (ACF)- Nepal, Kathmandu, Nepal
                [3 ]GRID grid.80817.36, ISNI 0000 0001 2114 6728, Central Department of Public Health, Institute of Medicine (IOM), , Tribhuvan University (TU), ; Kirtipur, Nepal
                [4 ]GRID grid.444743.4, ISNI 0000 0004 0444 7205, Department of Public Health, School of Health and Allied Sciences, , Pokhara University (PoU), ; Pokhara, Nepal
                [5 ]GRID grid.77048.3c, ISNI 0000 0001 2286 7412, Institut national d’études démographiques (INED), ; F-93322 Aubervilliers, France
                Article
                684
                10.1186/s12937-021-00684-7
                8021301
                d2f7415c-31ff-4231-9cc5-1670d29d4069
                © The Author(s) 2021

                Open AccessThis article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.

                Funding
                Funded by: Fondation Action contre la Faim pour la Recherche & l’Innovation
                Categories
                Research
                Custom metadata
                © The Author(s) 2021

                Nutrition & Dietetics
                severe acute malnutrition,discharge,relapse,whz,muac
                Nutrition & Dietetics
                severe acute malnutrition, discharge, relapse, whz, muac

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