A feasibility study using mid-upper arm circumference as the sole anthropometric criterion for admission and discharge in the outpatient treatment for severe acute malnutrition.
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AbstractBackground: The World Health Organization recommends the use of a weight-for-height Z-score (WHZ) and/or mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) as anthropometric criteria for the admission and discharge of young children for the community-based management of severe acute malnutrition. However, using MUAC as a single anthropometric criterion for admission and discharge in therapeutic nutritional programs may offer operational advantages to simplify admission processes at therapeutic nutritional centers and improve program coverage. Methods: This pragmatic, non-randomized, intervention study compared a standard outpatient nutritional program (n = 824) for the treatment of uncomplicated severe acute malnutrition using WHZ < - 3 and/or MUAC< 115 mm and/or bipedal edema for admission and discharge to a program (n = 1019) using MUAC as the sole anthropometric criterion for admission (MUAC< 120 mm) and discharge (MUAC ≥125 mm at two consecutive visits) in the Tahoua Region of Niger. Results: Compared to the standard program, the MUAC-only program discharged more children as recovered (70.1% vs. 51.6%; aOR 2.31, 95%CI 1.79-2.98) and fewer children as non-respondent or defaulters, based on respective program definitions. The risk of non-response was high in both programs. Three months post-discharge, children who were discharged after recovery in the MUAC-only program had lower WHZ and MUAC measures. Sixty-three children ineligible for the MUAC-only program but eligible for a standard program (MUAC ≥120 mm and WHZ < -3) were followed for twelve weeks and the anthropometric status of 69.8% of these children did not deteriorate (i.e. MUAC ≥120 mm) despite not immediately receiving treatment in the MUAC-only program. Conclusions: The results from this study share the first operational experience of using MUAC as sole anthropometric criterion for admission and discharge in Niger and overall support the consideration for MUAC-only programming: the MUAC-only model of care was associated with a higher recovery and a lower defaulter rate than the standard program with very few children found to be excluded from treatment with an admission criterion of MUAC < 120 mm. Further consideration of the appropriate MUAC-based discharge criterion as it relates to an increased risk of non-response and adverse post-discharge outcomes would be prudent.
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