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Accuracy of MUAC in the detection of severe wasting with the new WHO growth standards.OBJECTIVES: The objectives of this study were to estimate the accuracy of using mid-upper-arm circumference (MUAC) measurements to diagnose severe wasting by comparing the new standards from the World Health Organization (WHO) with those from the US National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and to analyze the age independence of the MUAC cutoff values for both curves. METHODS: We used cross-sectional anthropometric data for 34,937 children between the ages of 6 and 59 months, from 39 nutritional surveys conducted by Doctors Without Borders. Receiver operating characteristic curves were used to examine the accuracy of MUAC diagnoses. MUAC age independence was analyzed with logistic regression models. RESULTS: With the new WHO curve, the performance of MUAC measurements, in terms of sensitivity and specificity, deteriorated. With different cutoff values, however, the WHO standards significantly improved the predictive value of MUAC measurements over the NCHS standards. The sensitivity and specificity of MUAC measurements were the most age independent when the WHO curve, rather than the NCHS curve, was used. CONCLUSIONS: This study confirms the need to change the MUAC cutoff value from <110 mm to <115 mm. This increase of 5 mm produces a large change in sensitivity (from 16% to 25%) with little loss in specificity, improves the probability of diagnosing severe wasting, and reduces false-negative results by 12%. This change is needed to maintain the same diagnostic accuracy as the old curve and to identify the children at greatest risk of death resulting from severe wasting.
Assessing the impact of the introduction of the World Health Organization growth standards and weight-for-height z-score criterion on the response to treatment of severe acute malnutrition in children: Secondary data analysisOBJECTIVE: The objective of our study was to assess the impact of adopting the World Health Organization growth standards and weight-for-height z-score criterion on the response to treatment of severe acute malnutrition in children compared with the use of the National Center for Health Statistics growth reference. METHODS: We used data from children aged 6 to 59 months with acute malnutrition who were admitted to the Médecins sans Frontières nutrition program in Maradi, Niger, during 2006 (N = 56214). Differences in weight gain, duration of treatment, recovery from malnutrition, mortality, loss to follow-up, and need for inpatient care were compared for severely malnourished children identified according to the National Center for Health Statistics reference and weight-for-height <70% of the median criterion versus the World Health Organization standards and the weight-for-height less than -3 z-score criterion. RESULTS: A total of 8 times more children (n = 25754) were classified as severely malnourished according to the World Health Organization standards compared with the National Center for Health Statistics reference (n = 2989). Children included according to the World Health Organization standards had shorter durations of treatment, greater rates of recovery, fewer deaths, and less loss to follow-up or need for inpatient care. CONCLUSIONS: The introduction of the World Health Organization standards with the z-score criterion to identify children for admission into severe acute malnutrition treatment programs would imply the inclusion of children who are younger but have relatively higher weight for height on admission compared with the National Center for Health Statistics reference. These children have fewer medical complications requiring inpatient care and are more likely to experience shorter durations of treatment and lower mortality rates. The World Health Organization standards with the z-score criterion might become a useful tool for the early detection of acute malnutrition in children, although additional research on the resource implications of this transition is required.
Reducing wasting in young children with preventive supplementation: a cohort study in NigerOBJECTIVE: To compare the incidence of wasting, stunting, and mortality among children aged 6 to 36 months who are receiving preventive supplementation with either ready-to-use supplementary foods (RUSFs) or ready-to-use therapeutic foods (RUTFs). SUBJECTS AND METHODS: Children aged 6 to 36 months in 12 villages of Maradi, Niger, (n = 1645) received a monthly distribution of RUSFs (247 kcal [3 spoons] per day) for 6 months or RUTFs (500-kcal sachet per day) for 4 months. We compared the incidence of wasting, stunting, and mortality among children who received preventive supplementation with RUSFs versus RUTFs. RESULTS: The effectiveness of RUSF supplementation depended on receipt of a previous preventive intervention. In villages in which a preventive supplementation program was previously implemented, the RUSF strategy was associated with a 46% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 6%-69%) and 59% (95% CI: 17%-80%) reduction in wasting and severe wasting, respectively. In contrast, in villages in which the previous intervention was not implemented, we found no difference in the incidence of wasting or severe wasting according to type of supplementation. Compared with the RUTF strategy, the RUSF strategy was associated with a 19% (95% CI: 0%-34%) reduction in stunting overall. CONCLUSION: We found that the relative performance of a 6-month RUSF supplementation strategy versus a 4-month RUTF strategy varied with receipt of a previous nutritional intervention. Contextual factors will continue to be important in determining the dose and duration of supplementation that will be most effective, acceptable, and sustainable for a given setting.