This section contains articles written by MSF staff and MSF partners published in peer-reviewed journals. It contains research articles, reviews, editorials and letters. In all cases, the full text is available for free. Some articles are listed under more than one topic. The box on the right lists all the topics.

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  • Outcomes at 18 mo of 37 noma (cancrum oris) cases surgically treated at the Noma Children's Hospital, Sokoto, Nigeria.

    Farley, ES; Amirtharajah, M; Winters, RD; Taiwo, AO; Oyemakinda, MJ; Fosto, A; Torhee, LA; Mehta, UC; Bil, KA; Lenglet, AD (Oxford University Press, 2020-08-12)
    Background: Noma is a rapidly progressing infection of the oral cavity frequently resulting in severe facial disfigurement. We present a case series of noma patients surgically treated in northwest Nigeria. Methods: A retrospective analysis of routinely collected data (demographics, diagnosis and surgical procedures undergone) and in-person follow-up assessments (anthropometry, mouth opening and quality of life measurements) were conducted with patients who had surgery >6 mo prior to data collection. Results: Of the 37 patients included, 21 (56.8%) were male and 22 (62.9%) were aged >6 y. The median number of months between last surgery and follow-up was 18 (IQR 13, 25) mo. At admission, the most severely affected anatomical area was the outer cheek (n = 9; 36.0% of patients had lost between 26% and 50%). The most frequent surgical procedures were the deltopectoral flap (n = 16; 43.2%) and trismus release (n = 12; 32.4%). For the eight trismus-release patients where mouth opening was documented at admission, all had a mouth opening of 0-20 mm at follow-up. All patients reported that the surgery had improved their quality of life. Conclusions: Following their last surgical intervention, noma patients do experience some improvements in their quality of life, but debilitating long-term sequelae persist.
  • Mortality in adults with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis and HIV by antiretroviral therapy and tuberculosis drug use: an individual patient data meta-analysis.

    Bisson, GP; Bastos, M; Campbell, JR; Bang, D; Brust, JC; Isaakidis, P; Lange, C; Menzies, D; Migliori, GB; Pape, JW; et al. (Elsevier, 2020-08-08)
    Background: HIV-infection is associated with increased mortality during multidrug-resistant tuberculosis treatment, but the extent to which the use of antiretroviral therapy (ART) and anti-tuberculosis medications modify this risk are unclear. Our objective was to evaluate how use of these treatments altered mortality risk in HIV-positive adults with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis. Methods: We did an individual patient data meta-analysis of adults 18 years or older with confirmed or presumed multidrug-resistant tuberculosis initiating tuberculosis treatment between 1993 and 2016. Data included ART use and anti-tuberculosis medications grouped according to WHO effectiveness categories. The primary analysis compared HIV-positive with HIV-negative patients in terms of death during multidrug-resistant tuberculosis treatment, excluding those lost to follow up, and was stratified by ART use. Analyses used logistic regression after exact matching on country World Bank income classification and drug resistance and propensity-score matching on age, sex, geographic site, year of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis treatment initiation, previous tuberculosis treatment, directly observed therapy, and acid-fast-bacilli smear-positivity to obtain adjusted odds ratios (aORs) and 95% CIs. Secondary analyses were conducted among those with HIV-infection. Findings: We included 11 920 multidrug-resistant tuberculosis patients. 2997 (25%) were HIV-positive and on ART, 886 (7%) were HIV-positive and not on ART, and 1749 (15%) had extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis. By use of HIV-negative patients as reference, the aOR of death was 2·4 (95% CI 2·0-2·9) for all patients with HIV-infection, 1·8 (1·5-2·2) for HIV-positive patients on ART, and 4·2 (3·0-5·9) for HIV-positive patients with no or unknown ART. Among patients with HIV, use of at least one WHO Group A drug and specific use of moxifloxacin, levofloxacin, bedaquiline, or linezolid were associated with significantly decreased odds of death. Interpretation: Use of ART and more effective anti-tuberculosis drugs is associated with lower odds of death among HIV-positive patients with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis. Access to these therapies should be urgently pursued.
  • The potential public health consequences of COVID-19 on malaria in Africa.

    Sherrard-Smith, E; Hogan, AB; Hamlet, A; Watson, OJ; Whittaker, C; Winskill, P; Ali, F; Mohammad, AB; Uhomoibhi, P; Maikore, I; et al. (Nature Research, 2020-08-07)
    The burden of malaria is heavily concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) where cases and deaths associated with COVID-19 are rising1. In response, countries are implementing societal measures aimed at curtailing transmission of SARS-CoV-22,3. Despite these measures, the COVID-19 epidemic could still result in millions of deaths as local health facilities become overwhelmed4. Advances in malaria control this century have been largely due to distribution of long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs)5, with many SSA countries having planned campaigns for 2020. In the present study, we use COVID-19 and malaria transmission models to estimate the impact of disruption of malaria prevention activities and other core health services under four different COVID-19 epidemic scenarios. If activities are halted, the malaria burden in 2020 could be more than double that of 2019. In Nigeria alone, reducing case management for 6 months and delaying LLIN campaigns could result in 81,000 (44,000-119,000) additional deaths. Mitigating these negative impacts is achievable, and LLIN distributions in particular should be prioritized alongside access to antimalarial treatments to prevent substantial malaria epidemics.
  • Association between admission criteria and body composition among young children with moderate acute malnutrition, a cross-sectional study from Burkina Faso.

    Fabiansen, C; Cichon, B; Yameogo, CW; Iuel-Brockdorf, A-S; Phelan, K; Wells, JC; Ritz, C; Filteau, S; Briend, A; Christensen, VB; et al. (Springer Nature, 2020-08-06)
    Children with moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) are treated based on low weight-for-length z-score (WLZ), low mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) or both. This study aimed to assess associations of admission criteria and body composition (BC), to improve treatment of MAM. We undertook a cross-sectional study among 6-23 months old Burkinabe children with MAM. Fat-free (FFM) and fat mass (FM) were determined by deuterium dilution and expressed as FFM (FFMI) and FM index (FMI). Of 1,489 children, 439 (29.5%) were recruited by low MUAC only (MUAC-O), 734 (49.3%) by low WLZ and low MUAC (WLZ-MUAC) and 316 (21.2%) by low WLZ only (WLZ-O). Thus, 1,173 (78.8%) were recruited by low MUAC, with or without low WLZ (ALL-MUAC). After adjustments, WLZ-O had 89 g (95% confidence interval (CI) 5; 172) lower FFM compared to MUAC-O. Similarly, WLZ-O had 0.89 kg/m2 (95% CI 0.77; 1.01) lower FFMI compared to MUAC-O, whereas there was no difference for FMI. However, boys included by WLZ-O compared to MUAC-O had 0.21 kg/m2 (95% CI 0.05; 0.38) higher FMI. In contrast, girls included by WLZ-O had 0.17 (95% CI 0.01; 0.33) kg/m2 lower FMI compared to MUAC-O (interaction, p = 0.002). We found that different criteria for admission into MAM treatment programmes select children with differences in BC, especially FFMI.
  • Assault and care characteristics of victims of sexual violence in eleven Médecins Sans Frontières programs in Africa. What about men and boys?

    Broban, A; Van den Bergh, R; Russell, W; Benedetti, G; Caluwaerts, S; Owiti, P; Reid, A; De Plecker, E (Public Library of Sciences, 2020-08-04)
    Background: Often neglected, male-directed sexual violence (SV) has recently gained recognition as a significant issue. However, documentation of male SV patients, assaults and characteristics of presentation for care remains poor. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) systematically documented these in all victims admitted to eleven SV clinics in seven African countries between 2011 and 2017, providing a unique opportunity to describe SV patterns in male cases compared to females, according to age categories and contexts, thereby improving their access to SV care. Methods and findings: This was a multi-centric, cross-sectional study using routine program data. The study included 13550 SV cases, including 1009 males (7.5%). Proportions of males varied between programs and contexts, with the highest being recorded in migratory contexts (12.7%). Children (<13yrs) represented 34.3% of males. Different SV patterns appeared between younger and older males; while male children and adolescents were more often assaulted by known civilians, without physical violence, adult males more often endured violent assault, perpetrated by authority figures. Male patients presented more frequently to clinics providing integrated care (medical and psychological) for victims of violence (odds ratio 3.3, 95%CI 2.4-4.6), as compared to other types of clinics where SV disclosure upon admission was necessary. Males, particularly adults, were disproportionately more likely to suffer being compelled to rape (odds ratio 12.9, 95%CI 7.6-21.8).Retention in SV care was similar for males and females. Conclusions: Patterns of male-directed SV varied considerably according to contexts and age categories. A key finding was the importance of the clinic setup; integrated medical and SV clinics, where initial disclosure was not necessary to access care, appeared more likely to meet males' needs, while accommodating females' ones. All victims' needs should be considered when planning SV services, with an emphasis on appropriately trained and trauma-informed medical staff, health promotion activities and increased psychosocial support.
  • How COVID-19 could benefit tuberculosis and HIV services in South Africa.

    Keene, C; Mohr-Holland, E; Cassidy, T; Scott, V; Nelson, A; Furin, J; Trivino-Duran, L (Elsevier, 2020-08-03)
  • Morbidities & outcomes of a neonatal intensive care unit in a complex humanitarian conflict setting, Hajjah Yemen: 2017-2018

    Eze, P; Al-Maktari, F; Alshehari, AH; Lawani, LO (BioMed Central, 2020-07-29)
    Background The protracted conflict in Yemen has taken a massive toll on the health system, negatively impacting the health of children, especially the most vulnerable age group; the newborns. Methods A 2-year retrospective study of admissions into the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in Al-Gomhoury Hospital Hajjah, Northwest Yemen was conducted. Data was analyzed with IBM SPSS® version 25.0 statistical software using descriptive/inferential statistics. Results A total of 976 newborns were eligible and included in this study; 506 preterm newborns (51.8%) and 470 term newborns (48.2%). Over half, 549 (56.3%) newborns were admitted within 24 h after birth and 681 (69.8%) newborns travelled for over 60 min to arrive at the NICU. The most common admission diagnoses were complications of prematurity (341; 34.9%), perinatal asphyxia (336; 34.4%), neonatal jaundice (187; 18.8%), and neonatal sepsis (157, 16.1%). The median length of stay in the NICU was 4 days. There were 213 neonatal deaths (Facility neonatal mortality rate was 218 neonatal deaths per 1000 livebirths); 192 (90.1%) were preterm newborns, while 177 (83.1%) were amongst newborns that travelled for more 60 min to reach the NICU. Significant predictors of neonatal deaths are preterm birth (aOR = 3.09, 95% CI: 1.26–7.59, p = 0.014 for moderate preterm neonates; aOR = 6.18, 95% CI: 2.12–18.01, p = 0.001 for very preterm neonates; and aOR = 44.59, 95% CI: 9.18–216.61, p <  0.001 for extreme preterm neonates); low birth weight (aOR = 3.67, 95% CI: 1.16–12.07, p = 0.032 for very low birth weight neonates; and aOR = 17.42, 95% CI: 2.97–102.08, p = 0.002 for extreme low birth weight neonates); and traveling for more than 60 min to arrive at the NICU (aOR = 2.32, 95% CI: 1.07–5.04, p = 0.033). Neonates delivered by Caesarean section had lower odds of death (aOR = 0.38, 95% CI 0.20–0.73, p = 0.004) than those delivered by vaginal birth. Conclusions Preterm newborns bear disproportionate burden of neonatal morbidity and mortality in this setting which is aggravated by difficulties in accessing early neonatal care. Community-based model of providing basic obstetric and neonatal care could augment existing health system to improve neonatal survival in Yemen.
  • Prior vaccination with rVSV-ZEBOV does not interfere with but improves efficacy of postexposure antibody treatment

    Cross, RW; Bornholdt, ZA; Prasad, AN; Geisbert, JB; Borisevich, V; Agans, KN; Deer, DJ; Melody, K; Fenton, KA; Feldmann, H; et al. (Nature Research, 2020-07-27)
    A replication-competent vesicular stomatitis virus vaccine expressing the Ebola virus (EBOV) glycoprotein (GP) (rVSV-ZEBOV) was successfully used during the 2013-16 EBOV epidemic. Additionally, chimeric and human monoclonal antibodies (mAb) against the EBOV GP have shown promise in animals and humans when administered therapeutically. Uncertainty exists regarding the efficacy of postexposure antibody treatments in the event of a known exposure of a recent rVSV-ZEBOV vaccinee. Here, we model a worst-case scenario using rhesus monkeys vaccinated or unvaccinated with the rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine. We demonstrate that animals challenged with a uniformly lethal dose of EBOV one day following vaccination, and then treated with the anti-EBOV GP mAb MIL77 starting 3 days postexposure show no evidence of clinical illness and survive challenge. In contrast, animals receiving only vaccination or only mAb-based therapy become ill, with decreased survival compared to animals vaccinated and subsequently treated with MIL77. These results suggest that rVSV-ZEBOV augments immunotherapy.
  • Culture Conversion in Patients Treated with Bedaquiline and/or Delamanid: A Prospective Multi-country Study.

    Franke, MF; Khan, P; Hewison, C; Khan, U; Huerga, H; Seung, KJ; Rich, ML; Zarli, K; Samieva, N; Oyewusi, L; et al. (ATS Journals, 2020-07-24)
    Background Bedaquiline and delamanid offer the possibility of more effective and less toxic multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) treatment. With this treatment, however, some patients, remain at high risk for an unfavorable treatment outcome. The endTB observational study is the largest multicountry cohort of patients with rifampin-resistant/MDR-TB treated in routine care, according to WHO guidance, with delamanid- and/or bedaquiline-containing regimens. We report frequency of sputum culture conversion within six-months of treatment initiation and risk factors for non-conversion. Methods We included patients with a positive baseline culture who initiated a first endTB regimen prior to April 2018. Two consecutive negative cultures collected > 15 days apart constituted culture conversion. We used generalized mixed models to derive marginal predictions for the probability of culture conversion in key subgroups. Findings 1,109 patients initiated a multidrug treatment containing bedaquiline (63%), delamanid (27%) or both (10%). Of these, 939 (85%) experienced culture conversion within six months. In adjusted analyses, patients with HIV had a lower probability of conversion (0·73 [95% CI: 0·62, 0·84]) than patients without HIV (0·84 [95% CI: 0·79, 0·90]; p=0·03). Patients with both cavitary disease and highly positive sputum smear had a lower probability of conversion (0·68 [95% CI: 0·57, 0·79]) relative to patients without either (0·89; 95% CI: 0·84, 0·95; p=0·0004). Hepatitis C infection, diabetes mellitus/glucose intolerance, and baseline resistance were not associated with conversion. Interpretation Frequent sputum conversion in patients with rifampin-resistant/MDR-TB who were treated with bedaquiline and/or delamanid underscores the need for urgent expanded access to these drugs. There is a need to optimize treatment for patients with HIV and extensive disease.
  • Distribution of hygiene kits during a cholera outbreak in Kasaï-Oriental, Democratic Republic of Congo: a process evaluation.

    D'Mello-Guyett, L; Greenland, K; Bonneville, S; D'hondt, R; Mashako, M; Gorski, A; Verheyen, D; Van den Bergh, R; Maes, P; Checchi, F; et al. (BioMed Central, 2020-07-24)
    Background: Cholera remains a leading cause of infectious disease outbreaks globally, and a major public health threat in complex emergencies. Hygiene kits distributed to cholera case-households have previously shown an effect in reducing cholera incidence and are recommended by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) for distribution to admitted patients and accompanying household members upon admission to health care facilities (HCFs). Methods: This process evaluation documented the implementation, participant response and context of hygiene kit distribution by MSF during a 2018 cholera outbreak in Kasaï-Oriental, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The study population comprised key informant interviews with seven MSF staff, 17 staff from other organisations and a random sample of 27 hygiene kit recipients. Structured observations were conducted of hygiene kit demonstrations and health promotion, and programme reports were analysed to triangulate data. Results and conclusions: Between Week (W) 28-48 of the 2018 cholera outbreak in Kasaï-Oriental, there were 667 suspected cholera cases with a 5% case fatality rate (CFR). Across seven HCFs supported by MSF, 196 patients were admitted with suspected cholera between W43-W47 and hygiene kit were provided to patients upon admission and health promotion at the HCF was conducted to accompanying household contacts 5-6 times per day. Distribution of hygiene kits was limited and only 52% of admitted suspected cholera cases received a hygiene kit. The delay of the overall response, delayed supply and insufficient quantities of hygiene kits available limited the coverage and utility of the hygiene kits, and may have diminished the effectiveness of the intervention. The integration of a WASH intervention for cholera control at the point of patient admission is a growing trend and promising intervention for case-targeted cholera responses. However, the barriers identified in this study warrant consideration in subsequent cholera responses and further research is required to identify ways to improve implementation and delivery of this intervention.
  • Painless: a case of congenital insensitivity to pain in a 5-year-old male

    Al Amroh, HH; Reyes, AL; Barret Austin Hillary, J; Al Khaffaf, WH (Oxford University Press, 2020-07-24)
    Background: several genetic disorders are known to be associated with congenital insensitivity to pain (CIP), a term often used to describe an impaired ability to perceive the type, intensity and quality of noxious stimuli. Children with CIP often injure themselves severely. The injury can go unnoticed or be misdiagnosed as child abuse because it is associated with multiple and recurrent injuries which may result in permanent damage. Patient findings: we report the case of a 5-year-old boy with a history of showing no signs of pain when exposed to accidental injuries such as trauma, burns or secondary chronic lesions. Conclusion: child abuse has a much higher occurrence rate than rare neuropathies such as the one we describe. However, CIP should be considered as a diagnosis in any child presenting with a history of poor or absent responses to painful stimuli.
  • COVID-19: Exposing and addressing health disparities among ethnic minorities and migrants.

    Greenaway, C; Hargeaves, S; Barkati, S; Coyle, CM; Gobbi, F; Veizis, A; Douglas, P (Oxford University Press, 2020-07-24)
  • Bedaquiline and delamanid for drug-resistant tuberculosis: a clinician's perspective

    Guglielmetti, L; Chiesi, S; Eimer, J; Dominguez, J; Masini, T; Varaine, F; Veziris, N; Ader, F; Robert, J (Future Medicine, 2020-07-23)
    Drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) represents a substantial threat to the global efforts to control this disease. After decades of stagnation, the treatment of drug-resistant TB is undergoing major changes: two drugs with a new mechanism of action, bedaquiline and delamanid, have been approved by stringent regulatory authorities and are recommended by the WHO. This narrative review summarizes the evidence, originating from both observational studies and clinical trials, which is available to support the use of these drugs, with a focus on special populations. Areas of uncertainty, including the use of the two drugs together or for prolonged duration, are discussed. Ongoing clinical trials are aiming to optimize the use of bedaquiline and delamanid to shorten the treatment of drug-resistant TB.
  • Correspondence regarding "Delamanid for rifampicin-resistant tuberculosis: a retrospective study from South Africa".

    Mohr-Holland, E; Reuter, A; Hughes, J; Daniels, J; Beko, B; Makhanda, G; De Avezedo, V; Kock, Y; Cox, H; Furin, J; et al. (European Respiratory Society, 2020-07-23)
  • Magnitude of screening for gestational diabetes mellitus in an urban setting in Tanzania; a cross-sectional analytic study.

    Mukuve, A; Noorani, M; Sendagire, I; Mgonja, M (BioMed Central, 2020-07-23)
    Background: Medical screening detects risk factors for disease or presence of disease in otherwise well persons in order to intervene early and reduce morbidity and mortality. During antenatal care (ANC) it is important to detect conditions that complicate pregnancy, like gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). Despite international and local guidelines recommending screening for GDM during ANC, there is evidence to suggest that the practice was not being carried out adequately. A major challenge may be lack of consensus on uniform GDM screening and diagnostic guidelines internationally and locally. The primary objective was to determine the magnitude of screening for GDM among women receiving ANC at the Aga Khan Hospital, Dar es Salaam and Muhimbili National Hospital, Dar es Salaam. Secondary objectives were: to determine the methods used by health practitioners to screen for GDM, to determine the magnitude of undiagnosed gestational diabetes mellitus among women attending ANC and factors associated with screening for GDM among these women. Methods: A cross-sectional analytical study was done. Data collection was done using pre-tested questionnaires and reviewing antenatal care records. The proportion of women attending ANC who were screened for GDM was determined. The 75 g Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) was offered to women who had not been screened after education and consent. Results: Only 107 out of 358 (29.9%) had been offered some form of GDM screening. Tests used for GDM screening were random blood sugar (56.8%), fasting blood sugar (32.8%), HbA1C (6%) and 75 g OGTT (3.4%). The uptake of the OGTT was 27%. Of these women the prevalence of GDM was 27.9%. Factors associated with screening for GDM were history of big baby, history of pregnancy induced hypertension and participant awareness of GDM (all p: < 0.05). Conclusions: Screening for GDM among women attending ANC was lower than the World Health Organization target. Efforts should be directed towards promoting GDM screening, increasing awareness about GDM and developing more effective screening methods.
  • Magnitude of screening for gestational diabetes mellitus in an urban setting in Tanzania; a cross-sectional analytic study.

    Mukuve, A; Noorani, M; Sendagire, I; Mgonja, M (BioMed Central, 2020-07-23)
    Background: Medical screening detects risk factors for disease or presence of disease in otherwise well persons in order to intervene early and reduce morbidity and mortality. During antenatal care (ANC) it is important to detect conditions that complicate pregnancy, like gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). Despite international and local guidelines recommending screening for GDM during ANC, there is evidence to suggest that the practice was not being carried out adequately. A major challenge may be lack of consensus on uniform GDM screening and diagnostic guidelines internationally and locally. The primary objective was to determine the magnitude of screening for GDM among women receiving ANC at the Aga Khan Hospital, Dar es Salaam and Muhimbili National Hospital, Dar es Salaam. Secondary objectives were: to determine the methods used by health practitioners to screen for GDM, to determine the magnitude of undiagnosed gestational diabetes mellitus among women attending ANC and factors associated with screening for GDM among these women. Methods: A cross-sectional analytical study was done. Data collection was done using pre-tested questionnaires and reviewing antenatal care records. The proportion of women attending ANC who were screened for GDM was determined. The 75 g Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) was offered to women who had not been screened after education and consent. Results: Only 107 out of 358 (29.9%) had been offered some form of GDM screening. Tests used for GDM screening were random blood sugar (56.8%), fasting blood sugar (32.8%), HbA1C (6%) and 75 g OGTT (3.4%). The uptake of the OGTT was 27%. Of these women the prevalence of GDM was 27.9%. Factors associated with screening for GDM were history of big baby, history of pregnancy induced hypertension and participant awareness of GDM (all p: < 0.05). Conclusions: Screening for GDM among women attending ANC was lower than the World Health Organization target. Efforts should be directed towards promoting GDM screening, increasing awareness about GDM and developing more effective screening methods.
  • Responding to SARS-CoV-2 in South Africa: what can we learn from drug-resistant tuberculosis?

    Ndjeka, N; Conradie, F; Meintjes, G; Reuter, A; Hughes, J; Padanilam, X; Ismail, N; Kock, Y; Master, I; Romero, R; et al. (European Respiratory Society, 2020-07-23)
    Rapid adoption of new diagnostic tools, parallel process of research and implementation, decentralisation of services, the use of personal protective equipment, as well as strong partnership and collaboration, could strengthen the fight against COVID-19
  • Now is the time: a call for increased access to contraception and safe abortion care during the COVID-19 pandemic

    Kumar, M; Daly, M; De Plecker, E; Jamet, C; McRae, M; Markham, A; Batista, C (BMJ, 2020-07-20)
  • Thymus size in children with moderate malnutrition: a cohort study from Burkina Faso

    Rytter, MJ; Cichon, B; Fabiansen, C; Yameogo, CW; Windinmi, SZ; Michaelsen, KF; Filteau, S; Jeppesen, DL; Friis, H; Briend, A; et al. (Nature Publishing Group, 2020-07-20)
    Background: Moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) affects millions of children, increasing their risk of dying from infections. Thymus atrophy may be a marker of malnutrition-associated immunodeficiency, but factors associated with thymus size in children with MAM are unknown, as is the effect of nutritional interventions on thymus size. Methods: Thymus size was measured by ultrasound in 279 children in Burkina Faso with MAM, diagnosed by low mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) and/or low weight-for-length z-score (WLZ), who received 12 weeks treatment with different food supplements as part of a randomized trial. Correlates of thymus size and of changes in thymus size after treatment, and after another 12 weeks of follow-up were identified. Results: Thymus size correlated positively with age, anthropometry and blood haemoglobin, and was smaller in children with malaria. Children with malnutrition diagnosed using MUAC had a smaller thymus than children diagnosed based on WLZ. Thymus size increased during and after treatment, similarly across the different food supplement groups. Conclusions: In children with MAM, the thymus is smaller in children with anaemia or malaria, and grows with recovery. Assuming that thymus size reflects vulnerability, low MUAC seems to identify more vulnerable children than low WLZ in children with MAM. Impact: Thymus atrophy is known to be a marker of the immunodeficiency associated with malnutrition in children.In children with moderate malnutrition, we found the thymus to be smaller in children with anaemia or malaria.Assuming that thymus size reflects vulnerability, low MUAC seems to identify more vulnerable children than low weight for length.Thymus atrophy appears reversible with recovery from malnutrition, with similar growth seen in children randomized to treatment with different nutritional supplements.

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