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Mortality and recovery following moderate and severe acute malnutrition in children aged 6-18 months in rural Jharkhand and Odisha, eastern India: A cohort study

Prost, A; Nair, N; Copas, A; Pradhan, H; Saville, N; Tripathy, P; Gope, R; ... Sachdev, HS; + view all (2019) Mortality and recovery following moderate and severe acute malnutrition in children aged 6-18 months in rural Jharkhand and Odisha, eastern India: A cohort study. PLoS Med , 16 (10) , Article e1002934. 10.1371/journal.pmed.1002934. Green open access

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Recent data suggest that case fatality from severe acute malnutrition (SAM) in India may be lower than the 10%-20% estimated by the World Health Organization (WHO). A contemporary quantification of mortality and recovery from acute malnutrition in Indian community settings is essential to inform policy regarding the benefits of scaling up prevention and treatment programmes. METHODS AND FINDINGS: We conducted a cohort study using data collected during a recently completed cluster-randomised controlled trial in 120 geographical clusters with a total population of 121,531 in rural Jharkhand and Odisha, eastern India. Children born between October 1, 2013, and February 10, 2015, and alive at 6 months of age were followed up at 9, 12, and 18 months. We measured the children's anthropometry and asked caregivers whether children had been referred to services for malnutrition in the past 3 months. We determined the incidence and prevalence of moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) and SAM, as well as mortality and recovery at each follow-up. We then used Cox-proportional models to estimate mortality hazard ratios (HRs) for MAM and SAM. In total, 2,869 children were eligible for follow-up at 6 months of age. We knew the vital status of 93% of children (2,669/2,869) at 18 months. There were 2,704 children-years of follow-up time. The incidence of MAM by weight-for-length z score (WLZ) and/or mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) was 406 (1,098/2,704) per 1,000 children-years. The incidence of SAM by WLZ, MUAC, or oedema was 190 (513/2,704) per 1,000 children-years. There were 36 deaths: 12 among children with MAM and six among children with SAM. Case fatality rates were 1.1% (12/1,098) for MAM and 1.2% (6/513) for SAM. In total, 99% of all children with SAM at 6 months of age (227/230) were alive 3 months later, 40% (92/230) were still SAM, and 18% (41/230) had recovered (WLZ ≥ -2 standard deviation [SD]; MUAC ≥ 12.5; no oedema). The adjusted HRs using all anthropometric indicators were 1.43 (95% CI 0.53-3.87, p = 0.480) for MAM and 2.56 (95% CI 0.99-6.70, p = 0.052) for SAM. Both WLZ < -3 and MUAC ≥ 11.5 and < 12.5 were associated with increased mortality risk (HR: 3.33, 95% CI 1.23-8.99, p = 0.018 and HR: 3.87, 95% CI 1.63-9.18, p = 0.002, respectively). A key limitation of our analysis was missing WLZ or MUAC data at all time points for 2.5% of children, including for two of the 36 children who died. CONCLUSIONS: In rural eastern India, the incidence of acute malnutrition among children older than 6 months was high, but case fatality following SAM was 1.2%, much lower than the 10%-20% estimated by WHO. Case fatality rates below 6% have now been recorded in three other Indian studies. Community treatment using ready-to-use therapeutic food may not avert a substantial number of SAM-related deaths in children aged over 6 months, as mortality in this group is lower than expected. Our findings strengthen the case for prioritising prevention through known health, nutrition, and multisectoral interventions in the first 1,000 days of life, while ensuring access to treatment when prevention fails.

Type: Article
Title: Mortality and recovery following moderate and severe acute malnutrition in children aged 6-18 months in rural Jharkhand and Odisha, eastern India: A cohort study
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1002934
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1002934
Language: English
Additional information: © 2019 Prost et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute for Global Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute for Global Health > Infection and Population Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10084032
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