• A large-scale distribution of milk-based fortified spreads: evidence for a new approach in regions with high burden of acute malnutrition

      Defourny, I; Minetti, A; Harczi, G; Doyon, S; Shepherd, S; Tectonidis, M; Bradol, J H; Golden, M; Médecins Sans Frontières, Paris, France; University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, Scotland (Public Library of Science (PLoS), 2009-05-06)
      BACKGROUND: There are 146 million underweight children in the developing world, which contribute to up to half of the world's child deaths. In high burden regions for malnutrition, the treatment of individual children is limited by available resources. Here, we evaluate a large-scale distribution of a nutritional supplement on the prevention of wasting. METHODS AND FINDINGS: A new ready-to-use food (RUF) was developed as a diet supplement for children under three. The intervention consisted of six monthly distributions of RUF during the 2007 hunger gap in a district of Maradi region, Niger, for approximately 60,000 children (length: 60-85 cm). At each distribution, all children over 65 cm had their Mid-Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC) recorded. Admission trends for severe wasting (WFH<70% NCHS) in Maradi, 2002-2005 show an increase every year during the hunger gap. In contrast, in 2007, throughout the period of the distribution, the incidence of severe acute malnutrition (MUAC<110 mm) remained at extremely low levels. Comparison of year-over-year admissions to the therapeutic feeding program shows that the 2007 blanket distribution had essentially the same flattening effect on the seasonal rise in admissions as the 2006 individualized treatment of almost 60,000 children moderately wasted. CONCLUSIONS: These results demonstrate the potential for distribution of fortified spreads to reduce the incidence of severe wasting in large population of children 6-36 months of age. Although further information is needed on the cost-effectiveness of such distributions, these results highlight the importance of re-evaluating current nutritional strategies and international recommendations for high burden areas of childhood malnutrition.
    • Mortality risk among children admitted in a large-scale nutritional program in Niger, 2006

      Lapidus, N; Minetti, A; Djibo, A; Guerin, P J; Hustache, S; Gaboulaud, V; Grais, R; Epicentre, Paris, France; Ministry of Health, Niamey, Niger (Public Library of Science (PLoS), 2009-01-29)
      BACKGROUND: In 2006, the Médecins sans Frontières nutritional program in the region of Maradi (Niger) included 68,001 children 6-59 months of age with either moderate or severe malnutrition, according to the NCHS reference (weight-for-height<80% of the NCHS median, and/or mid-upper arm circumference<110 mm for children taller than 65 cm and/or presence of bipedal edema). Our objective was to identify baseline risk factors for death among children diagnosed with severe malnutrition using the newly introduced WHO growth standards. As the release of WHO growth standards changed the definition of severe malnutrition, which now includes many children formerly identified as moderately malnourished with the NCHS reference, studying this new category of children is crucial. METHODOLOGY: Program monitoring data were collected from the medical records of all children admitted in the program. Data included age, sex, height, weight, MUAC, clinical signs on admission including edema, and type of discharge (recovery, death, and default/loss to follow up). Additional data included results of a malaria rapid diagnostic test due to Plasmodium falciparum (Paracheck) and whether the child was a resident of the region of Maradi or came from bordering Nigeria to seek treatment. Multivariate logistic regression was performed on a subset of 27,687 children meeting the new WHO growth standards criteria for severe malnutrition (weight-for-height<-3 Z score, mid-upper arm circumference<110 mm for children taller than 65 cm or presence of bipedal edema). We explored two different models: one with only basic anthropometric data and a second model that included perfunctory clinical signs. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: In the first model including only weight, height, sex and presence of edema, the risk factors retained were the weight/height(1.84) ratio (OR: 5,774; 95% CI: [2,284; 14,594]) and presence of edema (7.51 [5.12; 11.0]). A second model, taking into account supplementary data from perfunctory clinical examination, identified other risk factors for death: apathy (9.71 [6.92; 13.6]), pallor (2.25 [1.25; 4.05]), anorexia (1.89 [1.35; 2.66]), fever>38.5 degrees C (1.83 [1.25; 2.69]), and age below 1 year (1.42 [1.01; 1.99]). CONCLUSIONS: Although clinicians will continue to perform screening using clinical signs and anthropometry, these risk indicators may provide additional criteria for the assessment of absolute and relative risk of death. Better appraisal of the child's risk of death may help orientate the child towards either hospitalization or ambulatory care. As the transition from the NCHS growth reference to the WHO standards will increase the number of children classified as severely malnourished, further studies should explore means to identify children at highest risk of death within this group using simple and standardized indicators.
    • Prognostic accuracy of WHO growth standards to predict mortality in a large-scale nutritional program in Niger

      Lapidus, N; Luquero, F J; Gaboulaud, V; Shepherd, S; Grais, R; Epicentre, Paris, France; European Programme for Intervention Epidemiology Training (EPIET), European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Stockholm, Sweden; Médecins Sans Frontières, Paris, France (Public Library of Science (PLoS), 2009-03-03)
      BACKGROUND: Important differences exist in the diagnosis of malnutrition when comparing the 2006 World Health Organization (WHO) Child Growth Standards and the 1977 National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) reference. However, their relationship with mortality has not been studied. Here, we assessed the accuracy of the WHO standards and the NCHS reference in predicting death in a population of malnourished children in a large nutritional program in Niger. METHODS AND FINDINGS: We analyzed data from 64,484 children aged 6-59 mo admitted with malnutrition (<80% weight-for-height percentage of the median [WH]% [NCHS] and/or mid-upper arm circumference [MUAC] <110 mm and/or presence of edema) in 2006 into the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) nutritional program in Maradi, Niger. Sensitivity and specificity of weight-for-height in terms of Z score (WHZ) and WH% for both WHO standards and NCHS reference were calculated using mortality as the gold standard. Sensitivity and specificity of MUAC were also calculated. The receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve was traced for these cutoffs and its area under curve (AUC) estimated. In predicting mortality, WHZ (NCHS) and WH% (NCHS) showed AUC values of 0.63 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.60-0.66) and 0.71 (CI 0.68-0.74), respectively. WHZ (WHO) and WH% (WHO) appeared to provide higher accuracy with AUC values of 0.76 (CI 0.75-0.80) and 0.77 (CI 0.75-0.80), respectively. The relationship between MUAC and mortality risk appeared to be relatively weak, with AUC = 0.63 (CI 0.60-0.67). Analyses stratified by sex and age yielded similar results. CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that in this population of children being treated for malnutrition, WH indicators calculated using WHO standards were more accurate for predicting mortality risk than those calculated using the NCHS reference. The findings are valid for a population of already malnourished children and are not necessarily generalizable to a population of children being screened for malnutrition. Future work is needed to assess which criteria are best for admission purposes to identify children most likely to benefit from therapeutic or supplementary feeding programs.