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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 56  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 113-117

Malnutrition in acutely ill children at the paediatric emergency unit in a tertiary hospital in Nigeria

1 Department of Paediatrics, University of Jos, Jos, Plateau; Faculty of Community and Health Sciences, School of Public Health University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, Nigeria
2 Faculty of Community and Health Sciences, School of Public Health University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa

Correspondence Address:
Isaac E Ocheke
Department of Paediatrics, Jos University Teaching Hospital, P. M. B-2076, Jos
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0300-1652.150695

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Background: In many developing countries, malnutrition remains an important cause of morbidity and mortality particularly in under-five children. The factors responsible for malnutrition could be immediate, underlying or basic, acting either alone or together. It has been shown that children who are malnourished have poorer outcomes from other illnesses than well-nourished children. It is important therefore to periodically describe the extent and pattern of childhood malnutrition so that effective preventive measures can be put in place. Objective: To describe the prevalence and pattern of malnutrition in children presenting with acute illnesses at the Jos University Teaching Hospital. Patients and Methods: A cross-sectional descriptive study in children aged 6 to 59 months seen at the paediatric emergency unit from April to October 2012. The subjects were recruited consecutively. Each child had both clinical assessment and appropriate laboratory evaluations done alongside anthropometric measurements. The nutritional/dietary and socio-demographic histories were also obtained. Results: Of the 379 children, 224 (59.1%) were males and 155 (40.9%) females. The median age was 17 months, range (6-57). Wasting (WFH z-scores ≤−3 to <−1SD) was evident in one hundred children, giving an overall prevalence of 26.9%. Severe wasting (WFH z-score <−3), was present in 22 (5.9%) children indicating the prevalence of marasmus, whereas only two children (0.53%) had oedematous malnutrition (kwashiorkor). Stunting or chronic malnutrition, (HFA z-scores ≤−3 to <−1SD) was present in 67 children (18.0%). Seventeen (4.6%) were severely stunted (HFA z-score <−3). Conclusions: Wasting was the most common form of malnutrition in the study.

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