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1.  Malnutrition and growth failure in cyanotic and acyanotic congenital heart disease with and without pulmonary hypertension 
AIM—To investigate the effect of several types of congenital heart disease (CHD) on nutrition and growth.
PATIENTS AND METHODS—The prevalence of malnutrition and growth failure was investigated in 89 patients with CHD aged 1−45 months. They were grouped according to cardiac diagnosis: group aP (n = 26), acyanotic patients with pulmonary hypertension; group ap (n = 5), acyanotic patients without pulmonary hypertension; group cp (n = 42), cyanotic patients without pulmonary hypertension; and group cP (n = 16), cyanotic patients with pulmonary hypertension. Information on socioeconomic level, parental education status, birth weight and nutrition history, number of siblings, and the timing, quality, and quantity of nutrients ingested during weaning period and at the time of the examination were obtained through interviews with parents.
RESULTS—There was no significant difference between groups in terms of parental education status, socioeconomic level, duration of breast feeding, and number of siblings (p > 0.05). Group cP patients ingested fewer nutrients for their age compared to other groups. 37 of the 89 patients were below the 5th centile for both weight and length, and 58 of 89 patients were below the 5th centile for weight. Mild or borderline malnutrition was more common in group aP patients. Most group cp patients were in normal nutritional state, and stunting was more common than wasting. Both moderate to severe malnutrition and failure to thrive were more common in group cP patients.
CONCLUSION—Patients with CHD are prone to malnutrition and growth failure. Pulmonary hypertension appears to be the most important factor, and cyanotic patients with pulmonary hypertension are the ones most severely affected. This study shows the additive effects of hypoxia and pulmonary hypertension on nutrition and growth of children with CHD.

PMCID: PMC1717989  PMID: 10373135
2.  Mapping the Risk of Anaemia in Preschool-Age Children: The Contribution of Malnutrition, Malaria, and Helminth Infections in West Africa 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(6):e1000438.
Ricardo Soares Magalhães and colleagues used national cross-sectional household-based demographic health surveys to map the distribution of anemia risk in preschool children in Burkina Faso, Ghana, and Mali.
Childhood anaemia is considered a severe public health problem in most countries of sub-Saharan Africa. We investigated the geographical distribution of prevalence of anaemia and mean haemoglobin concentration (Hb) in children aged 1–4 y (preschool children) in West Africa. The aim was to estimate the geographical risk profile of anaemia accounting for malnutrition, malaria, and helminth infections, the risk of anaemia attributable to these factors, and the number of anaemia cases in preschool children for 2011.
Methods and Findings
National cross-sectional household-based demographic health surveys were conducted in 7,147 children aged 1–4 y in Burkina Faso, Ghana, and Mali in 2003–2006. Bayesian geostatistical models were developed to predict the geographical distribution of mean Hb and anaemia risk, adjusting for the nutritional status of preschool children, the location of their residence, predicted Plasmodium falciparum parasite rate in the 2- to 10-y age group (Pf PR2–10), and predicted prevalence of Schistosoma haematobium and hookworm infections. In the four countries, prevalence of mild, moderate, and severe anaemia was 21%, 66%, and 13% in Burkina Faso; 28%, 65%, and 7% in Ghana, and 26%, 62%, and 12% in Mali. The mean Hb was lowest in Burkina Faso (89 g/l), in males (93 g/l), and for children 1–2 y (88 g/l). In West Africa, severe malnutrition, Pf PR2–10, and biological synergisms between S. haematobium and hookworm infections were significantly associated with anaemia risk; an estimated 36.8%, 14.9%, 3.7%, 4.2%, and 0.9% of anaemia cases could be averted by treating malnutrition, malaria, S. haematobium infections, hookworm infections, and S. haematobium/hookworm coinfections, respectively. A large spatial cluster of low mean Hb (<80 g/l) and maximal risk of anaemia (>95%) was predicted for an area shared by Burkina Faso and Mali. We estimate that in 2011, approximately 6.7 million children aged 1–4 y are anaemic in the three study countries.
By mapping the distribution of anaemia risk in preschool children adjusted for malnutrition and parasitic infections, we provide a means to identify the geographical limits of anaemia burden and the contribution that malnutrition and parasites make to anaemia. Spatial targeting of ancillary micronutrient supplementation and control of other anaemia causes, such as malaria and helminth infection, can contribute to efficiently reducing the burden of anaemia in preschool children in Africa.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Global estimates for the time period 1993–2005 suggest that that worldwide, nearly 300 million children had anemia, that is, hemoglobin levels less than 110 g/l. In sub-Saharan Africa, two-thirds of all children were anemic, representing 83.5 million children. These statistics are important because anemia in infancy and childhood is associated with poor cognitive development, reduced growth, problems with immune function—and ultimately, decreased survival. Malnutrition (including micronutrient deficiency, especially of iron, vitamin A, vitamin C, and folate), undernutrition, and infectious diseases, particularly HIV, malaria, and helminth infections (caused by hookworm and Schistosoma haematobium—which causes urinary schistosomiasis), are major causes of anemia in children. Although iron supplementation can often correct anemia, in some circumstances, iron deficiency can protect against common infectious agents, and giving iron can, on occasion, increase the severity of infectious disease in some children. Focusing on the treatment and prevention of infectious diseases that cause anemia is therefore an important alternative strategy in the treatment of anemia.
Why Was This Study Done?
Control tools for targeting interventions for malaria and helminth infection in sub-Saharan Africa include modern spatial risk prediction methods that combine statistical models with geographical information systems (similar to those used in car navigation systems). However, to date no studies have used these tools to spatially predict the risk of anemia. Furthermore, the contribution that malnutrition and infections make to the overall anemia burden in Africa is largely unknown. In this study the researchers used these tools to predict the prevalence of anemia in three West African countries and to estimate the attributable risk of anemia due to malnutrition, malaria, and helminth infections.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used geographically linked data from the most recent Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) in Burkina Faso (2003), Ghana (2003), and Mali (2006), which included capillary blood sampling and testing and detailed anthropometric (height and weight) measurements. A total of 7,147 children aged 1–4 years (3,477 girls and 3,670 boys) in the three countries were included in the analysis. The researchers mapped DHS survey locations in the three study countries using DHS cluster coordinates in a geographic information system. Using data from the Malaria Atlas Project, the researchers extracted spatially predicted values of Plasmodium falciparum parasite rate for each DHS cluster using a geographical information system and used previously reported parasitological survey data of hookworm and S. haematobium infections to predict helminth infection risk across the region. Then the researchers developed spatial prediction models using Bayesian statistics to estimate of the population attributable fraction for specific predictors for anemia. Data from the DHS showed that the prevalence of mild, moderate, and severe anemia was 21%, 66%, and 13% in Burkina Faso; 28%, 65%, and 7% in Ghana, and 26%, 62%, and 12% in Mali. The prevalence of stunting, wasting, and being underweight in the study area was 87.8%, 89.7%, and 71.2%, respectively, and the mean P. falciparum parasite rate, and rates of S. haematobium infection, hookworm infection, and S. haematobium/hookworm coinfection for the study area were 52.0%, 26.8%, 8.2%, and 3.6%, respectively. The overall results indicate that in the three countries, approximately 6.7 million children aged 1–4 years have anemia. Severe malnutrition, P. falciparum infection, hookworm infection, S. haematobium infection, and hookworm/S. haematobium coinfection were responsible for an estimated 2.5 million, 1.0 million, 250,000, 285,000, and 61,000 anemia cases, respectively. Central Burkina Faso and southern Ghana had the highest number of anemic children.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These results add insight and detail to anemia prevalence and anemia severity within different geographical areas in three West African countries. The combination of anemia and mean hemoglobin predictive maps identifies communities in West Africa where preschool-age children are at increased risk of morbidity. The use of anemia maps has important practical implications for targeted control in these countries, such as guiding the efficient allocation of nutrient supplements and fortified foods, and enabling risk assessment of anemia due to different causes, which would in turn constitute an evidence base to calculate the best balance between interventions.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Abdisalan Noor
The WHO Web site has comprehensive information on the worldwide prevalence of anemia
More information on Demographic Health Surveys is available
More information on global predictions of malaria is available
PMCID: PMC3110251  PMID: 21687688
3.  The Double Burden of Obesity and Malnutrition in a Protracted Emergency Setting: A Cross-Sectional Study of Western Sahara Refugees 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(10):e1001320.
Surveying women and children from refugee camps in Algeria, Carlos Grijalva-Eternod and colleagues find high rates of obesity among women as well as many undernourished children, and that almost a quarter of households are affected by both undernutrition and obesity.
Households from vulnerable groups experiencing epidemiological transitions are known to be affected concomitantly by under-nutrition and obesity. Yet, it is unknown to what extent this double burden affects refugee populations dependent on food assistance. We assessed the double burden of malnutrition among Western Sahara refugees living in a protracted emergency.
Methods and Findings
We implemented a stratified nutrition survey in October–November 2010 in the four Western Sahara refugee camps in Algeria. We sampled 2,005 households, collecting anthropometric measurements (weight, height, and waist circumference) in 1,608 children (6–59 mo) and 1,781 women (15–49 y). We estimated the prevalence of global acute malnutrition (GAM), stunting, underweight, and overweight in children; and stunting, underweight, overweight, and central obesity in women. To assess the burden of malnutrition within households, households were first classified according to the presence of each type of malnutrition. Households were then classified as undernourished, overweight, or affected by the double burden if they presented members with under-nutrition, overweight, or both, respectively.
The prevalence of GAM in children was 9.1%, 29.1% were stunted, 18.6% were underweight, and 2.4% were overweight; among the women, 14.8% were stunted, 53.7% were overweight or obese, and 71.4% had central obesity. Central obesity (47.2%) and overweight (38.8%) in women affected a higher proportion of households than did GAM (7.0%), stunting (19.5%), or underweight (13.3%) in children. Overall, households classified as overweight (31.5%) were most common, followed by undernourished (25.8%), and then double burden–affected (24.7%).
The double burden of obesity and under-nutrition is highly prevalent in households among Western Sahara refugees. The results highlight the need to focus more attention on non-communicable diseases in this population and balance obesity prevention and management with interventions to tackle under-nutrition.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Good nutrition is essential for human health and survival. Insufficient food intake causes under-nutrition, which increases susceptibility to infections; intake of too much or inappropriate food, in particular in interaction with sedentary behaviour, can lead to obesity, which increases the risk of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes. During the past 30 years, the prevalence (the proportion of a population affected by a condition) of obesity has greatly increased, initially among adults in industrialized countries, but more recently among children and in less-affluent populations. Now, worldwide, overweight people outnumber under-nourished people. Furthermore, some populations are affected by both under-nutrition and obesity, forms of malnutrition that occur when the diet is suboptimal for health. So, for example, a child can be both stunted (short for his or her age, an indicator of long-term under-nutrition) and overweight (too heavy for his or her age). The emergence of this double burden of malnutrition has been attributed to the nutrition transition—the rapid move because of migration or urbanization to a lifestyle characterized by low levels of physical activity and high consumption of refined, energy-dense foods—without complete elimination of under-nutrition.
Why Was This Study Done?
Refugees are one group of people in whom under-nutrition and obesity sometimes coexist. Worldwide, in 2010, 15.4 million refugees were dependent on host governments and international humanitarian agencies for their food security and well-being. It is essential that these governments and organizations provide appropriate food assistance programs to refugees—policies that are appropriate during acute emergencies may not be appropriate in protracted emergencies and may contribute to the emergence of the double burden of malnutrition among refugees. Unfortunately, the extent to which the double burden of malnutrition affects refugees in protracted emergencies is unknown. In this cross-sectional study (an investigation that looks at the characteristics of a population at a single time), the researchers assessed the double burden of malnutrition among people from Western Sahara who have been living in four refugee camps near Tindouf city, Algeria, since 1975.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used data from a 2010 survey that measured the height and weight of children and the height, weight, and waist circumference of women living in 2,005 households in the Algerian refugee camps. For the children, they estimated the prevalence of global acute malnutrition (which includes thin, “wasted” children, as indicated by a low weight for height based on the World Health Organization growth standards, and those with nutritional oedema), stunting, and underweight and overweight (low and high weight for age and gender, respectively). For the women, they estimated the prevalence of stunting, underweight (body mass index less than 18.5 kg/m2), overweight (body mass index greater than 25 kg/m2), and central obesity (a waist circumference of more than 80 cm). Among the children, 9.1% had global acute malnutrition, 29.1% were stunted, 8.6% were underweight, and 2.4% were overweight. Among the women, 14.8% were stunted, 53.7% were overweight, and 71.4% had central obesity. Notably, central obesity and overweight in women affected more households than global acute malnutrition, stunting, and underweight in children. Finally, based on whether a household included members with under-nutrition or overweight, alone or in combination, the researchers classified a third of households as overweight, a quarter as undernourished, and a quarter as affected by the double burden of malnutrition.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that there is a high prevalence of the double burden of malnutrition among households in Western Saharan refugee camps in Algeria. Although this study provides no information on men and does not investigate whether the obesity seen in these camps leads to an increased risk of diabetes and other non-communicable diseases, these findings have several important implications for the provision of food assistance and care for protracted humanitarian emergencies. For example, they highlight the need to promote long-term food security and to improve nutrition adequacy and food diversity in protracted emergencies. In addition, they suggest that current food assistance programs that are suitable for acute emergencies may not be suitable for extended emergencies. They also highlight the need to focus more attention on non-communicable diseases in refugee camps and to develop innovative ways to provide obesity prevention and management in these settings. However, as the researchers stress, careful policy and advocacy work is essential to ensure that efforts to deal with the threat of obesity among refugees do not jeopardize support for life-saving food assistance programs for refugees.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
Wikipedia provides background information about the Western Sahara refugee camps near Tindouf, Algeria (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
The World Health Organization provides information on all aspects of nutrition and obesity (in several languages)
The United Nations World Food Programme is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide; its website provides detailed information about hunger and information about its work in the Western Sahara refugee camps in Algeria, including personal stories and photographs of food distribution
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is the United Nations body mandated to lead and coordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide; its website provides detailed information about its work in the Western Sahara refugee camps in Algeria
Oxfam also provides detailed information about its work in the Algerian refugee camps, a description of the camps, and personal stories from people living in the camps
An article published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations explains the double burden of malnutrition
PMCID: PMC3462761  PMID: 23055833
4.  Nutritional Status of Under-five Children Living in an Informal Urban Settlement in Nairobi, Kenya 
Malnutrition in sub-Saharan Africa contributes to high rates of childhood morbidity and mortality. However, little information on the nutritional status of children is available from informal settlements. During the period of post-election violence in Kenya during December 2007–March 2008, food shortages were widespread within informal settlements in Nairobi. To investigate whether food insecurity due to post-election violence resulted in high prevalence of acute and chronic malnutrition in children, a nutritional survey was undertaken among children aged 6-59 months within two villages in Kibera, where the Kenya Medical Research Institute/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducts population-based surveillance for infectious disease syndromes. During 25 March–4 April 2008, a structured questionnaire was administered to caregivers of 1,310 children identified through surveillance system databases to obtain information on household demographics, food availability, and child-feeding practices. Anthropometric measurements were recorded on all participating children. Indices were reported in z-scores and compared with the World Health Organization (WHO) 2005 reference population to determine the nutritional status of children. Data were analyzed using the Anthro software of WHO and the SAS. Stunting was found in 47.0% of the children; 11.8% were underweight, and 2.6% were wasted. Severe stunting was found in 23.4% of the children; severe underweight in 3.1%, and severe wasting in 0.6%. Children aged 36-47 months had the highest prevalence (58.0%) of stunting while the highest prevalence (4.1%) of wasting was in children aged 6-11 months. Boys were more stunted than girls (p<0.01), and older children were significantly (p<0.0001) stunted compared to younger children. In the third year of life, girls were more likely than boys to be wasted (p<0.01). The high prevalence of chronic malnutrition suggests that stunting is a sustained problem within this urban informal settlement, not specifically resulting from the relatively brief political crisis. The predominance of stunting in older children indicates failure in growth and development during the first two years of life. Food programmes in Kenya have traditionally focused on rural areas and refugee camps. The findings of the study suggest that tackling childhood stunting is a high priority, and there should be fostered efforts to ensure that malnutrition-prevention strategies include the urban poor.
PMCID: PMC3190366  PMID: 21957674
Child nutrition; Child nutrition disorders; Child nutritional status; Cross-sectional studies; Food security; Informal settlement; Slums; Kenya
5.  Preventing Acute Malnutrition among Young Children in Crises: A Prospective Intervention Study in Niger 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(9):e1001714.
Céline Langendorf and colleagues conducted a pragmatic intervention study in Niger to assess whether distributions of supplementary foods in addition to household support by cash transfer effectively reduced malnutrition in children aged 6 to 23 months.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Finding the most appropriate strategy for the prevention of moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) and severe acute malnutrition (SAM) in young children is essential in countries like Niger with annual “hunger gaps.” Options for large-scale prevention include distribution of supplementary foods, such as fortified-blended foods or lipid-based nutrient supplements (LNSs) with or without household support (cash or food transfer). To date, there has been no direct controlled comparison between these strategies leading to debate concerning their effectiveness. We compared the effectiveness of seven preventive strategies—including distribution of nutritious supplementary foods, with or without additional household support (family food ration or cash transfer), and cash transfer only—on the incidence of SAM and MAM among children aged 6–23 months over a 5-month period, partly overlapping the hunger gap, in Maradi region, Niger. We hypothesized that distributions of supplementary foods would more effectively reduce the incidence of acute malnutrition than distributions of household support by cash transfer.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a prospective intervention study in 48 rural villages located within 15 km of a health center supported by Forum Santé Niger (FORSANI)/Médecins Sans Frontières in Madarounfa. Seven groups of villages (five to 11 villages) were allocated to different strategies of monthly distributions targeting households including at least one child measuring 60 cm–80 cm (at any time during the study period whatever their nutritional status): three groups received high-quantity LNS (HQ-LNS) or medium-quantity LNS (MQ-LNS) or Super Cereal Plus (SC+) with cash (€38/month [US$52/month]); one group received SC+ and family food ration; two groups received HQ-LNS or SC+ only; one group received cash only (€43/month [US$59/month]). Children 60 cm–80 cm of participating households were assessed at each monthly distribution from August to December 2011. Primary endpoints were SAM (weight-for-length Z-score [WLZ]<−3 and/or mid-upper arm circumference [MUAC]<11.5 cm and/or bipedal edema) and MAM (−3≤WLZ<−2 and/or 11.5≤MUAC<12.5 cm). A total of 5,395 children were included in the analysis (615 to 1,054 per group). Incidence of MAM was twice lower in the strategies receiving a food supplement combined with cash compared with the cash-only strategy (cash versus HQ-LNS/cash adjusted hazard ratio [HR] = 2.30, 95% CI 1.60–3.29; cash versus SC+/cash HR = 2.42, 95% CI 1.39–4.21; cash versus MQ-LNS/cash HR = 2.07, 95% CI 1.52–2.83) or with the supplementary food only groups (HQ-LNS versus HQ-LNS/cash HR = 1.84, 95% CI 1.35–2.51; SC+ versus SC+/cash HR = 2.53, 95% CI 1.47–4.35). In addition, the incidence of SAM was three times lower in the SC+/cash group compared with the SC+ only group (SC+ only versus SC+/cash HR = 3.13, 95% CI 1.65–5.94). However, non-quantified differences between groups, may limit the interpretation of the impact of the strategies.
Preventive distributions combining a supplementary food and cash transfer had a better preventive effect on MAM and SAM than strategies relying on cash transfer or supplementary food alone. As a result, distribution of nutritious supplementary foods to young children in conjunction with household support should remain a pillar of emergency nutritional interventions. Additional rigorous research is vital to evaluate the effectiveness of these and other nutritional interventions in diverse settings.
Trial registration NCT01828814
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Good nutrition during childhood is essential for health and survival. Undernourished children are more susceptible to infection and are more likely to die from common ailments such as diarrhoea than well-nourished children. Malnutrition can be chronic or acute. Chronic (long-term) malnutrition causes stunting. A stunted child has a low height for his or her age when compared to the World Health Organization Child Growth Standards, which chart the growth of a reference population. By contrast, acute malnutrition causes wasting. A wasted child has a low weight for his or her height. Acute malnutrition, which is responsible for more than 800,000 deaths among children under 5 years old every year (12.6% of all deaths in this age group), often follows earthquakes or other emergencies but also occurs in countries such as Niger that regularly experience a “hunger gap,” a shortage of food in the months before the annual harvest. Interventions designed to prevent acute malnutrition include distributions of supplementary food such as lipid-based nutrient supplements (LNS) and fortified cereal products (for example, super cereal plus [SC+]) targeting children and household support in the form of food or cash transfers, which allow households to buy their own food.
Why Was This Study Done?
Governments and donor agencies need to know which preventative strategy is most effective, particularly among children under 2 years old who are most vulnerable to acute malnutrition. Here, the researchers compare the effectiveness of seven preventative strategies—including the distribution of nutritious supplementary foods with and without additional household support (food or cash transfer) and cash transfer alone—on the incidence (occurrence) of moderate and severe acute malnutrition among children aged 6–23 months living in 48 villages in the Madarounfa district of Niger between August and December, 2011. Niger regularly experiences a hunger gap between June and October; 12.9% of the population of the Madarounfa district was at risk of severe food insecurity at the time of the study.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers allocated the villages to receive high or medium quantity LNS plus cash, SC+ plus cash or a family food ration, high quantity LNS only, SC+ only, or cash only; the cash transfer was sufficient to meet the energy needs of an average household. The interventions were distributed once a month to households that included at least one child measuring 60–80 cm in length at any time during the study period (length is used as a proxy for age when the precise age of children is unknown). Eligible children in each participating household were assessed for moderate and severe acute malnutrition as defined by the World Health Organization by measuring their weight, length, and mid-upper arm circumference at each distribution. The incidence of moderate acute malnutrition was about twice as high among children who received the cash-only intervention as among those who received any of the food supplement plus cash. For example, the incidence of moderate acute malnutrition was 3.33 cases per 100 child-months among children who received the SC+ plus cash intervention but 7.97 cases per 100 child-months among those who received the cash-only intervention. Moreover, the incidence of severe acute malnutrition was about three times higher among the children who received the SC+ only intervention than among those who received the SC+ plus cash intervention.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that, in this region of Niger, interventions that combined the distribution of supplementary food and a cash transfer prevented acute malnutrition more effectively than strategies that relied on cash transfer or supplementary food distribution alone. Unmeasured differences between the groups that affect the incidence of malnutrition may be responsible for some of the differences between intervention groups, and the incidences of malnutrition may have been different if the study period had covered the whole hunger gap. Moreover, these findings may not be generalizable to other regions of Niger or to other countries that experience an annual hunger gap. Despite these limitations, which highlight the need for further research into the effectiveness of nutritional interventions, these findings suggest that the distribution of supplementary foods to young children in conjunction with household support should remain an important part of nutritional interventions during the hunger gap and other emergencies.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Marco Kerac and Andrew Seal
More information about this prospective intervention study is available from
The charity UNICEF, which protects the rights of children and young people around the world, provides detailed statistics on child undernutrition; it has detailed information about malnutrition and the humanitarian situation in Niger; a 2012 article on malnutrition among children in Niger includes a personal story about a child with severe acute malnutrition in Maradi
The World Health Organization Child Growth Standards are available (in several languages)
The United Nations Millennium Development Goals provides information on ongoing world efforts to reduce hunger and child mortality
The World Food Programme is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide; its website provides information about malnutrition in Niger, including a visual presentation on wide-scale targeted food distribution in the country
“Starved for Attention” is an international multimedia campaign launched in 2010 by Médecins Sans Frontiéres (MSF) and the VII Photo agency to rewrite the story of childhood malnutrition; information about MSF's work in Niger to tackle malnutrition is available
PMCID: PMC4152259  PMID: 25180584
6.  The Effect of Adding Ready-to-Use Supplementary Food to a General Food Distribution on Child Nutritional Status and Morbidity: A Cluster-Randomized Controlled Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(9):e1001313.
Lieven Huybregts and colleagues investigate how supplementing a general food distribution with a fortified lipid-based spread during a seasonal hunger gap in Chad affects anthropometric and morbidity outcomes for children aged 6 to 36 months.
Recently, operational organizations active in child nutrition in developing countries have suggested that blanket feeding strategies be adopted to enable the prevention of child wasting. A new range of nutritional supplements is now available, with claims that they can prevent wasting in populations at risk of periodic food shortages. Evidence is lacking as to the effectiveness of such preventive interventions. This study examined the effect of a ready-to-use supplementary food (RUSF) on the prevention of wasting in 6- to 36-mo-old children within the framework of a general food distribution program.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a two-arm cluster-randomized controlled pragmatic intervention study in a sample of 1,038 children aged 6 to 36 mo in the city of Abeche, Chad. Both arms were included in a general food distribution program providing staple foods. The intervention group was given a daily 46 g of RUSF for 4 mo. Anthropometric measurements and morbidity were recorded monthly. Adding RUSF to a package of monthly household food rations for households containing a child assigned to the intervention group did not result in a reduction in cumulative incidence of wasting (incidence risk ratio: 0.86; 95% CI: 0.67, 1.11; p = 0.25). However, the intervention group had a modestly higher gain in height-for-age (+0.03 Z-score/mo; 95% CI: 0.01, 0.04; p<0.001). In addition, children in the intervention group had a significantly higher hemoglobin concentration at the end of the study than children in the control group (+3.8 g/l; 95% CI: 0.6, 7.0; p = 0.02), thereby reducing the odds of anemia (odds ratio: 0.52; 95% CI: 0.34, 0.82; p = 0.004). Adding RUSF also resulted in a significantly lower risk of self-reported diarrhea (−29.3%; 95% CI: 20.5, 37.2; p<0.001) and fever episodes (−22.5%; 95% CI: 14.0, 30.2; p<0.001). Limitations of this study include that the projected sample size was not fully attained and that significantly fewer children from the control group were present at follow-up sessions.
Providing RUSF as part of a general food distribution resulted in improvements in hemoglobin status and small improvements in linear growth, accompanied by an apparent reduction in morbidity.
Trial registration NCT01154595
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
Editors' Summary
Good nutrition during childhood is essential for health and survival. Undernourished children are more susceptible to infections and are more likely to die from common ailments such as diarrhea than well-nourished children. Globally, undernutrition contributes to about a third of deaths among children under five years old. Experts use three physical measurements to determine whether a child is undernourished. An “underweight” child has a low weight for his or her age and gender when compared to the World Health Organization Child Growth Standards, which chart the growth of a reference population. A “stunted” child has a low height for his or her age; stunting indicates chronic undernutrition. A “wasted” child has a low weight for his or her height; wasting indicates acute undernutrition and can be caused by disasters or seasonal food shortages. Recent estimates indicate that about a fifth of young children in developing countries are underweight, and one third are stunted; in south Asia and west/central Africa, more than one tenth of children are wasted, a condition that markedly increases the risk of death.
Why Was This Study Done?
In emergency situations, international organizations support affected populations by providing “general food distributions.” Recently, there have been claims that the provision of targeted nutritional supplements within a general food distribution framework effectively prevents child wasting, but there is little evidence to support these claims. In this cluster-randomized controlled trial, the researchers investigate the effect of a targeted daily dose of a “ready-to-use supplementary food” (RUSF; a lipid-based nutrient supplement) on indicators of undernutrition in 6- to 36-month-old, non-wasted children in Chad, a country beset by a severe food crisis. Political instability in this central African country has severely reduced the nutritional status of children, and annual droughts, which affect crop production, cause a “hunger gap” between June and October. In a recent survey, one fifth of children in Chad were wasted at the beginning of this hunger gap. A cluster-randomized trial randomly assigns groups of people to receive alternative interventions and compares the outcomes in the differently treated “clusters.”
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers randomly assigned fourteen household clusters in the city of Abeche, Chad, to the trial's intervention or control arm. All the households received a general food distribution that included staple foods; eligible children in the intervention households were also given a daily RUSF ration between June and September 2010. The researchers regularly measured the children's weights and heights, recorded illnesses reported by caregivers, and measured each child's blood hemoglobin level before and after the intervention to assess their risk of anemia, an indicator of poor nutrition. The addition of RUSF to the household food rations did not significantly reduce the cumulative incidence of wasting. That is, although fewer children in the intervention group became wasted during the trial than in the control group, this difference was not statistically significant—it could have happened by chance. However, compared to the children in the control group, those in the intervention group had a significantly greater gain in height-for-age (equivalent to a difference in height gain of 0.09 cm/month), slightly higher hemoglobin levels at the end of the study, which significantly reduced their anemia risk, and a significantly lower risk of self-reported diarrhea and fever.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Although targeted RUSF provided as part of a general food distribution had no significant effect on wasting in young children in Abeche, Chad, the intervention improved their hemoglobin status and linear growth, and reduced illness among them. Why didn't targeted RUSF prevent wasting effectively in this trial? Maybe the effect of RUSF was diluted out by the effect of the general food distribution or maybe the trial was too short to see a clear effect. Most importantly, though, the trial may have been too small to see a clear effect—the researchers were unable to enroll as many children into their trial as they had planned because of political instability in Chad, and this probably limited the trial's ability to detect small differences between the control and intervention groups. Nevertheless, because these findings provide no clear evidence that adding RUSF to a household food ration effectively prevents wasting, alternative ways to prevent acute malnutrition in Chad and other vulnerable regions of the world should be investigated.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Kathryn Dewey and Mary Arimond
Action Contra la Faim–France has a web page that describes the situation in Chad
The United Nations Childrens Fund, which protects the rights of children and young people around the world, provides detailed statistics on child undernutrition; it has detailed information, including videos, about the current food crisis in Chad and the Sahel
The WHO Child Growth Standards are available (in several languages)
The United Nations provides information on ongoing world efforts to reduce hunger and child mortality
The World Food Programme is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide; its website provides detailed information about malnutrition in Chad, including a video of the current food crisis in the country
Starved for Attention is an international multimedia campaign launched in 2010 by Médecins Sans Frontiéres (MSF) and the VII Photo agency to rewrite the story of childhood malnutrition; information about MSFs work in Chad to tackle malnutrition is available
PMCID: PMC3445445  PMID: 23028263
7.  Impact of congenital heart disease on brain development in newborn infants 
To assess brain development and brain injury in neonates with cyanotic and acyanotic congenital heart disease (CHD).
The study included 52 term infants with CHD who were divided into two groups: Cyanotic (n=21) and acyanotic (n=31). Fifteen healthy neonates of matched age and sex were enrolled in the study as controls. Three-dimensional proton magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging and diffusion tensor imaging were used to assess brain development and injury. We calculated the ratio of N-acetylaspartate (NAA) to choline (which increases with maturation), average diffusivity (which decreases with maturation), fractional anisotropy of white matter (which increases with maturation), and the ratio of lactate to choline (which increases with brain injury).
As compared with control neonates, those with CHD had significant decrease in NAA/choline ratio (P<0.001), significant increase in lactate/choline ratio (P<0.0001), significant increase in average diffusivity (P<0.0001), and significant decrease of white matter fractional anisotropy (P<0.001). Neonates with cyanotic CHD had significant less brain development and more brain injury than those with acyanotic CHD (P<0.05).
Newborn infants with cyanotic and acyanotic CHD are at high risk of brain injury and impaired brain maturity.
PMCID: PMC3327009  PMID: 22529596
Brain development; brain injury; congenital heart disease; neonates
8.  Sleep in Infants with Congenital Heart Disease 
Clinics  2009;64(12):1205-1210.
To investigate hypoxia and sleep disordered breathing in infants with congenital heart disease.
Prospective study. In-hospital full polysomnography was performed on 14 infants with congenital heart disease, age 7 ±1 months, and in 7 normal infants, age 10 ±2 months. Congenital heart disease infants were classified as acyanotic (n=7) or cyanotic (n=7).
Nutritional status, assessed by the Gomez classification and expressed as % weight for age, was 70 ±7, 59 ±11 and 94 ±16 in the acyanotic, cyanotic congenital heart disease and control infants, respectively (p<0.001). The respiratory disturbance index (AHI, events per hour) was [median (25–75%)]: 2.5 (1.0–3.4), 2.4 (1.5–3.1) and 0.7 (0.7–0.9) in acyanotic, cyanotic CHD infants and controls, respectively (p=0.013). Almost all congenital heart disease infants (11 out of 14) and only one control infant had an AHI >1 event/hour. The minimum oxygen saturation was 79% (74–82), 73% (57–74) and 90% (90–91) in the acyanotic, cyanotic congenital heart disease infants and controls, respectively (p <0.001). The arousal index (events/hour) was similar among the three groups at 8.4 ±2.4, 10.3 ±8.7 and 6.5 ±3, respectively (p=0.451).
Infants with congenital heart disease frequently present with sleep-disordered breathing associated with oxygen desaturations but not arousals. Therefore, sleep may represent a significant burden to infants with congenital heart disease.
PMCID: PMC2797590  PMID: 20037709
Sleep disorders; Sleep apnea syndromes; Infant; Congenital heart defects; Polysomnography
9.  Impact of child malnutrition on the specific anti-Plasmodium falciparum antibody response 
Malaria Journal  2009;8:116.
In sub-Saharan Africa, preschool children represent the population most vulnerable to malaria and malnutrition. It is widely recognized that malnutrition compromises the immune function, resulting in higher risk of infection. However, very few studies have investigated the relationship between malaria, malnutrition and specific immunity. In the present study, the anti-Plasmodium falciparum IgG antibody (Ab) response was evaluated in children according to the type of malnutrition.
Anthropometric assessment and blood sample collection were carried out during a cross-sectional survey including rural Senegalese preschool children. This cross-sectional survey was conducted in July 2003 at the onset of the rainy season. Malnutrition was defined as stunting (height-for-age <-2 z-scores) or wasting (weight-for-height <-2 z-scores). The analysis was performed on all malnourished children in July (n = 161, either stunted, n = 142 or wasted, n = 19), pair-matched to well-nourished controls. The IgG Ab response to P. falciparum whole extracts (schizont antigens) was assessed by ELISA in sera of the included children.
Both the prevalence of anti-malarial immune responders and specific IgG Ab levels were significantly lower in malnourished children than in controls. Depending on the type of malnutrition, wasted children and stunted children presented a lower specific IgG Ab response than their respective controls, but this difference was significant only in stunted children (P = 0.026). This down-regulation of the specific Ab response seemed to be explained by severely stunted children (HAZ ≤ -2.5) compared to their controls (P = 0.03), while no significant difference was observed in mildly stunted children (-2.5 < HAZ <-2.0). The influence of child malnutrition on the specific anti-P. falciparum Ab response appeared to be independent of the intensity of infection.
Child malnutrition, and particularly stunting, may down-regulate the anti-P. falciparum Ab response, both in terms of prevalence of immune responders and specific IgG Ab levels. This study provides further evidence for the influence of malnutrition on the specific anti-malarial immune response and points to the importance of taking into account child malnutrition in malaria epidemiological studies and vaccine trials.
PMCID: PMC2700128  PMID: 19490641
10.  Factors associated with malaria parasitaemia, malnutrition, and anaemia among HIV-exposed and unexposed Ugandan infants: a cross-sectional survey 
Malaria Journal  2012;11:432.
Malaria, malnutrition and anaemia are major causes of morbidity and mortality in African children. The interplay between these conditions is complex and limited data exist on factors associated with these conditions among infants born to HIV-uninfected and infected women.
Two hundred HIV-exposed (HIV-uninfected infants born to HIV-infected mothers) and 400 HIV-unexposed infants were recruited from an area of high malaria transmission in rural Uganda. A cross-sectional survey was performed at enrolment to measure the prevalence of malaria parasitaemia, measures of malnutrition (z-scores <2 standard deviations below mean) and anaemia (haemoglobin <8 gm/dL). Multivariate logistic regression was used to measure associations between these conditions and risk factors of interest including household demographics, malaria prevention practices, breastfeeding practices, household structure and wealth index.
The prevalence of malaria parasitaemia was 20%. Factors protective against parasitaemia included female gender (OR = 0.66, p = 0.047), mother’s age (OR = 0.81 per five-year increase, p = 0.01), reported bed net use (OR = 0.63, p = 0.03) and living in a well-constructed house (OR = 0.25, p = 0.01). Although HIV-unexposed infants had a higher risk of parasitaemia compared to HIV-exposed infants (24% vs 14%, p = 0.004), there was no significant association between HIV-exposure status and parasitaemia after controlling for the use of malaria preventative measures including bed net use and trimethoprim-sulphamethoxazole prophylaxis. The prevalence of stunting, underweight, and wasting were 10%, 7%, and 3%, respectively. HIV-exposed infants had a higher odds of stunting (OR = 2.23, p = 0.005), underweight (OR = 1.73, p = 0.09) and wasting (OR = 3.29, p = 0.02). The prevalence of anaemia was 12%. Risk factors for anaemia included older infant age (OR = 2.05 per one month increase, p = 0.003) and having malaria parasitaemia (OR = 5.74, p < 0.001).
Compared to HIV-unexposed infants, HIV-exposed infants had a higher use of malaria preventative measures and lower odds of malaria parasitaemia. Having a better constructed house was also protective against malaria parasitaemia. HIV-exposure was the primary risk factor for measures of malnutrition. The primary risk factor for anaemia was malaria parasitaemia. These findings suggest the need to better target existing interventions for malaria, malnutrition and anaemia as well as the need to explore further the mechanisms behind the observed associations.
PMCID: PMC3544600  PMID: 23270614
11.  Angiogenic biomarkers in children with congenital heart disease: possible implications 
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), platelet derived endothelial cell growth factor/thymidine phosphorylase (PD-ECGF/TP) and leptin are known as potent angiogenic factors The objective of the study was to evaluate these angiogenic factors VEGF, PD-ECGF/TP and leptin in children with congenital heart disease (CHD) and the factors that lead to angiogenesis in such cases.
Sixty CHD children were studied and divided into two groups (n = 30); cyanotic-CHD (C-CHD) and acyanotic-CHD (A-CHD). Twenty five healthy children were included as controls.
Significantly higher serum levels of VEGF, PD-ECGF/TP activity and leptin were detected in patients with CHD, particularly in patients with C-CHD. CHD patients with SpO2 <90%, pulmonary hypertension (PH), severe pulmonary stenosis (PS), detectable collaterals, cardiomegaly and/or heart failure showed significantly higher levels of these factors than those with higher SpO2 or those without these findings.
Hypoxia, PH and PS are important factors that lead to harmful angiogenesis. However, angiogenesis could be essential in some cases of CHD as coarctation of aorta to enhance renal perfusion. This may provide new ways for therapeutic strategies aiming at reducing or promoting angiogenesis in CHD to improve patient's outcome.
PMCID: PMC2874565  PMID: 20406482
12.  Burden of Giardia duodenalis Infection and Its Adverse Effects on Growth of Schoolchildren in Rural Malaysia 
Giardia duodenalis infection and malnutrition are still considered as public health problems in many developing countries especially among children in rural communities. This study was carried out among Aboriginal (Orang Asli) primary schoolchildren in rural peninsular Malaysia to investigate the burden and the effects of Giardia infection on growth (weight and height) of the children.
Weight and height of 374 children aged 7–12 years were assessed before and after treatment of Giardia infection. The children were screened for Giardia parasite using trichrome staining technique. Demographic and socioeconomic data were collected via face-to-face interviews using a pre-tested questionnaire. Overall, 22.2% (83/374) of the children were found to be infected with Giardia. Nutritional status of children was assessed and the results showed that the mean weight and height were 23.9 kg (95% CI = 23.3, 24.5) and 126.6 cm (95% CI = 125.6, 127.5), respectively. Overall, the prevalence of severe underweight, stunting and wasting were 28.3%, 23.8% and 21.0%, respectively. Multiple linear regression analyses showed sex, Giardia infection and household monthly income as the significant determinants of weight while sex and level of mother's education were the significant determinants of height. Weight and height were assessed at 3 and 6 months after treatment of Giardia infection. It was found that Giardia infection has a significant association with the weight of children but not with height.
This study reveals high prevalence of Giardia infection and malnutrition among Aboriginal children in rural Malaysia and clearly highlights an urgent need to identify integrated measures to control these health problems in the rural communities. Essentially, proper attention should be given to the control of Giardia infection in Aboriginal communities as this constitutes one of the strategies to improve the nutritional status of Aboriginal children.
Author Summary
Giardia infection, a neglected infection caused by the protozoan parasite Giardia duodenalis is prevalent worldwide especially among young children in rural areas of the tropics and subtropics. In Malaysia, Giardia infection and protein-energy malnutrition coexist in Aboriginal (Orang Asli) communities with high prevalence among school-aged children. We screened 374 schoolchildren in Lipis and Raub districts, Pahang, Malaysia for the presence of Giardia infection and investigated the effects of this infection on the growth of children. Overall, 22.2% of the children studied were infected with Giardia. Nutritional status of children was assessed and we found that the prevalence of severe underweight, stunting and wasting were 28.3%, 23.8% and 21.0%, respectively. Giardia infection was identified as a significant determinant of weight among these children. Moreover, it was found that Giardia infection has a significant association with the weight of children but not with height. The control of Giardia infection should be given prominence as it is one of the strategies to enhance the nutritional status of Aboriginal children.
PMCID: PMC3814875  PMID: 24205426
13.  Delayed recognition of congenital heart disease 
Postgraduate Medical Journal  2006;82(969):468-470.
The aim of this prospective study was to evaluate the proportion of children with delayed recognition of congenital heart disease (CHD).
Of the 744 children with CHD primarily diagnosed during a 10 year period in one hospital, the patients were identified where the diagnosis of CHD was established with a significant delay.
Sixty six patients (8.9%) had delayed diagnosis of CHD. Among patients with cyanotic CHD, 10.4% (7 of 67 cases) were referred after they had initially been discharged home from the birth clinic. Among patients with acyanotic CHD, 8.7% (59 of 677) of all children and 35.1% (59 of 168) of the children who required surgery or interventional catheterisation were referred at an age where elective repair should have already been performed or needed immediate treatment because of their haemodynamic status. Of the 66 patients with delayed diagnosis, one infant with cor triatriatum died at admission because of delayed referral and 10 children had severe complications: preoperative cardiogenic shock in seven cases of aortic coarctation and one case of endocardial fibroelastosis, pulmonary hypertensive crisis in one child after delayed repair of a ventricular septal defect, and infectious endocarditis after dental care in a teenager with undiagnosed moderate aortic stenosis, who required Ross operation a few months later.
Discussion and conclusion
A substantial proportion of CHD was detected with relevant delay. In all cases of late diagnosis, clinical cardiac findings were present that should have alerted the physician on the possible presence of underlying CHD.
PMCID: PMC2563766  PMID: 16822925
diagnosis; congenital heart disease; child
14.  Prevalence of Malnutrition in under 6-year Olds in South Khorasan, Iran 
Iranian Journal of Pediatrics  2010;20(4):435-441.
Malnutrition is one of the important health problems throughout the world, particularly in developing countries, which has undesirable effects on mental and physical health of children. The aim of this study was to find out the prevalence of malnutrition in children under 6 years old in Privince South Khorasan, Iran, in 2007.
This cross sectional and descriptive analytical study was conducted on children under 6 years old in South Khorasan Iran, belonging to six urban and rural regions applying multistage cluster sampling methodology. Data were collected through measuring weight and height, structural questionnaires Anthropometric Nutrution Indicators Survey, and face-to-face interviews with mothers. Malnutrition was measured on the basis of the indices underweight, wasting and stunting. The obtained data was analyzed by means of chi-square test in the packages SPSS and EPI-Info 2000, taking α= 0.05 as the significant level.
Out of 1807 children 51.7% were males, 52.2% living in urban areas, and 37% were under 24 months old. Weight index was normal in 52.2% children, 34.4% lightly underweight, 11.7% moderately underweight and 1.2% severely underweight. Prevalence of underweight had a significant relationship to habitation, mothers' job and parents' education level. According to stunting criteria, 55% were normal, 28.4% lightly stunted 12.7% were moderate, and 3.9% severe stunted. Stunting also had a significant relationship to habitation, age, mother's job, and parents' level of education. Wasting criteria showed that 67.8% were normal 24.7% light, 5.9% moderate and 1.6% had severe wasting. This had a significant relationship to sex and habitation.
Prevalence of malnutrition was in children and its relationship to socioeconomic variables, measures such as increasing parents' education - especially mothers' knowledge - constancy of breast feeding until the age of 2 years, and promoting nutrition status of children under 6 years are recommended.
PMCID: PMC3446098  PMID: 23056743
Malnutrition; Underweight; Wasting; Stunting; Children
15.  Spectrum of heart disease in children under 5 years of age at Liaquat University Hospital, Hyderabad, Pakistan 
Indian Heart Journal  2014;66(1):145-149.
Objective & methodology
This was a descriptive cross sectional study of one year duration conducted in Pediatric department of Liaquat University Hospital, Hyderabad. The objective was to assess the clinical pattern, age distribution and type of heart diseases in children under 5 years of age. In this study 150 children with suspicion of cardiac problem were enrolled.
Among 150 cardiac patients 55.3% were male and 44.7% were female. Congenital heart diseases (CHD) seen in 89.3% and 10.7% had acquired heart disease. Among CHD 74.6% were Acyanotic lesions while cyanotic lesions were seen in 23.9% and 1.5% were cases of dextrocardia. Ventricular septal defect was the commonest Acyanotic lesion (29.9%) followed by atrial septal defect (25.4%). Among cyanotic heart diseases tetralogy of Fallot was the commonest lesion seen in 11.2% followed by transposition of great arteries and complex heart defect 5.2% and 3% respectively. Among acquired heart disease myocarditis was the commonest disease accounts 94% and pericardial effusion was seen in 6%.
Regarding the type of congenital heart defect acyanotic defect was more common than cyanotic with ventricular septal defect commonest lesion. Tetralogy of Fallot's was commonest in cyanotic group. Availability of expertise locally will lead to more patients getting surgical treatment at an earlier age thereby reducing morbidity and mortality and improving quality of life for these children.
PMCID: PMC3946440  PMID: 24581115
Congenital heart disease; Ventricular septal defect; Tetralogy of Fallots; Myocarditis; Early referral
16.  The nutritional impacts of soil-transmitted helminths infections among Orang Asli schoolchildren in rural Malaysia 
Parasites & Vectors  2012;5:119.
Soil-transmitted helminths (STH) infections, anaemia and malnutrition are major public health problems in school-age children in developing countries. This study was conducted on 289 Orang Asli (aboriginal) schoolchildren in order to assess the current prevalence and predictors of anaemia and malnutrition, as well as the nutritional impacts of STH infections among these children.
A cross-sectional study was combined with a longitudinal follow-up three months after treatment with anthelminthic drugs. Blood samples were collected from the children to measure haemoglobin (Hb) level. Anthropometric and socioeconomic data were also collected and the children were screened for STH.
The baseline findings revealed that the prevalence of anaemia, significant stunting, underweight and wasting among the children were 41.0%, 28.0%, 29.2% and 12.5%, respectively. Overall, the prevalence of trichuriasis, ascariasis and hookworm infections were 84.6%, 47.6% and 3.9%, respectively. Haemoglobin level was significantly lower among the moderate-to-heavy infected children compared to the negative-to-light infected children. Age <10years and moderate-to-heavy ascariasis were the predictors of anaemia. Stunting was associated with gender, age, moderate-to-heavy ascariasis and trichuriasis. Three months post-treatment assessment showed that the moderate-to-heavy infected children gained significant increment in their mean Hb level compared to the negative-to-light infected children (0.44 g/dL compared to 0.08 g/dL). However, no difference was found in the mean increments in growth indices between the groups.
STH infections, anaemia and malnutrition are still prevalent and a matter of public health concern in Orang Asli communities in Malaysia. Sustainable deworming programme at school and community levels among these populations will help to improve their health and nutritional status.
PMCID: PMC3419660  PMID: 22704549
Soil-transmitted helminths; Anaemia; Malnutrition; Orang Asli; Malaysia
17.  Endothelial dysfunction and atherosclerosis in children with irreversible pulmonary hypertension due to congenital heart disease 
Annals of Pediatric Cardiology  2012;5(2):160-164.
To assess endothelial dysfunction and the risk for coronary atherosclerosis in children with irreversible pulmonary hypertension due to congenital heart disease (CHD).
The study included 18 cyanotic patients (the mean age was 12.28 ± 3.26 years) who developed irreversible pulmonary hypertension due to cyanotic and acyanotic CHDs, and 18 control patients (the mean age was 11.78 ± 3.00 years). Study groups were compared for flow-mediated dilatation (FMD), carotid intima media thickness (CIMT) and atherosclerotic risk factors.
Compared to the control group, the mean FMD was significantly reduced in the cyanotic group (5.26 ± 2.42% and 9.48 ± 2.60%, respectively; P-value < 0.001). No significant difference was observed between the groups in CIMT (0.41 ± 0.08 mm and 0.39 ± 0.06 mm, respectively; P-value = 0.299). The levels of total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein–cholesterol and very low-density lipoprotein–cholesterol were statistically significantly lower compared tothe control group (P-value = 0.001, 0.006 and 0.014, respectively), whereas no statistically significant difference was found in the levels of high-density lipoprotein–cholesterol and triglycerides (P-value = 0.113 and 0.975, respectively).
Systemic endothelial dysfunction in children with irreversible pulmonary hypertension due to CHD was noted but there was no increased risk for atherosclerosis.
PMCID: PMC3487205  PMID: 23129906
Childhood; congenital heart disease; flow-mediated dilatation; pulmonary hypertension
18.  Spectrum of congenital heart disease in children admitted for cardiac surgery at Rehman Medical Institute, Peshawar, Pakistan 
Objective: To assess age, gender distribution and relative frequency of congenital heart disease (CHD) in children who underwent palliative or corrective cardiac surgery at Rehman Medical Institute, Peshawar.
Methodology: This retrospective study was conducted in Department of Cardiac Surgery at Rehman Medical Institute (RMI), Peshawar from May 2008 till May 2010. One hundred and twenty three patients up to age group of 16 years with confirmed diagnosis of congenital heart disease admitted for Cardiac Surgery at Rehman Medical Institute, Peshawar were included.
Results: Out of 123 patients, there were 71 males (57.7%) and 52 females (42.2%), with male to female ratio of 1.3:1. Sixty five (52.8%) of the total cases had acyanotic heart defects. Cyanotic heart defects were seen in 58 patients (47.1%). Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD) followed by Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA) and Atrial Septal Defect (ASD), were the commonest acyanotic heart lesions, 33.8%, 23.0% and 16.9% respectively. Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF) was the commonest cyanotic lesion.
Conclusion : Majority of patients with congenital heart disease had acyanotic CHD with the commonest lesion being VSD. Tetralogy Of Fallot (TOF) was the commonest cyanotic lesion. Most of the patients were less than five years with no significant difference in sex distribution. Availability of expertise locally will lead to more patients getting surgical treatment at an earlier age thereby reducing morbidity and mortality and improving quality of life for these children.
PMCID: PMC3809184  PMID: 24353534
Congenital heart disease; Cyanotic and acyanotic heart disease; Ventricular septal defect; Patent Ductus Arteriosus; Tetralogy of Fallot
19.  Feeding abilities in neonates with congenital heart disease: a retrospective study 
An important area concerning morbidity among infants with congenital heart defects (CHD) is related to feeding problems. Our objectives were to characterize the evolution of feeding milestones related to transition to per oral feeding among infants with CHD, and to identify associated variables impacting the feeding abilities. Specifically, we differentiated the feeding characteristics in neonates with acyanotic vs cyanotic CHD.
Study Design
Feeding progress was tracked during the first hospitalization in a retrospective chart review study involving 76 infants (29 acyanotic, 47 cyanotic CHD). The ages at which the following milestones attained were recorded: first feeds, maximum gavage feeds, first nipple feeds and maximum nipple feeds, in addition to the length of hospital stay. Effects of perinatal factors, duration of respiratory support, vasopressor and narcotic use and use of cardiopulmonary bypass on the feeding milestones were also evaluated. ANOVA, t-test, and stepwise linear regression analysis were applied as appropriate. Data stated as mean±s.e.m., or %; P<0.05 was considered significant.
Prenatal and birth characteristics were similar (P = NS) between the neonates with acyanotic and cyanotic CHD. Cyanotic CHD required three times prolonged use of ventilation, narcotics and vasopressor use (all P<0.05, compared to the acyanotic group). In the acyanotic group, prolonged respiratory support correlated linearly with time to attain maximal gavage feeds and nippling (both, R2 = 0.8). In the cyanotic group, delayed initiation of gavage feeds and prolonged respiratory support both correlated linearly with time to attain maximal gavage feeds and nippling (both, R2 = 0.8). Age at first gavage feed correlated with maximum gavage feeds among neonates with cyanotic CHD, and first nipple feed correlated with maximum nipple feeds among all groups (P<0.01). Use of cardiopulmonary bypass in cyanotic CHD delayed the feeding milestones and prolonged the length of stay (both, P<0.05 vs non-bypass group); similar findings were not seen in the acyanotic group.
In contrast to neonates with acyanotic CHD, cyanotic CHD group had significant delays with (a) feeding readiness, (b) successful gastric feeding, (c) oromotor readiness and (d) successful oromotor skills. Co-morbid factors that may directly influence the delay in feeding milestones include the (a) duration of respiratory support and (b) use of cardiopulmonary bypass. Delays in achieving maximum gavage and maximum nippling may suggest foregut dysmotility and oropharyngeal dysphagia.
PMCID: PMC3799769  PMID: 18818664
feeding problems; congenital heart defects; infant
20.  Nutrition: Basis for Healthy Children and Mothers in Bangladesh 
Recent data from the World Health Organization showed that about 60% of all deaths, occurring among children aged less than five years (under-five children) in developing countries, could be attributed to malnutrition. It has been estimated that nearly 50.6 million under-five children are malnourished, and almost 90% of these children are from developing countries. Bangladesh is one of the countries with the highest rate of malnutrition. The recent baseline survey by the National Nutrition Programme (NNP) showed high rates of stunting, underweight, and wasting. However, data from the nutrition surveillance at the ICDDR, B hospital showed that the proportion of children with stunting, underweight, and wasting has actually reduced during 1984–2005. Inappropriate infant and young child-feeding practices (breastfeeding and complementary feeding) have been identified as a major cause of malnutrition. In Bangladesh, although the median duration of breastfeeding is about 30 months, the rate of exclusive breastfeeding until the first six months of life is low, and practice of appropriate complementary feeding is not satisfactory. Different surveys done by the Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and Bangladesh Breastfeeding Foundation (BBF) showed a rate of exclusive breastfeeding to be around 32-52%, which have actually remained same or declined over time. The NNP baseline survey using a strict definition of exclusive breastfeeding showed a rate of exclusive breastfeeding (12.8%) until six months of age. Another study from the Abhoynagar field site of ICDDR, B reported the prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding to be 15% only. Considerable efforts have been made to improve the rates of exclusive breastfeeding. Nationally, initiation of breastfeeding within one hour of birth, feeding colostrum, and exclusive breastfeeding have been promoted through the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) implemented and supported by BBF and UNICEF respectively. Since most (87-91%) deliveries take place in home, the BFHI has a limited impact on the breastfeeding practices. Results of a few studies done at ICDDR, B and elsewhere in developing countries showed that the breastfeeding peer-counselling method could substantially increase the rates of exclusive breastfeeding. Results of a study in urban Dhaka showed that the rate of exclusive breastfeeding was 70% among mothers who were counselled compared to only 6% who were not counselled. Results of another study in rural Bangladesh showed that peer-counselling given either individually or in a group improved the rate of exclusive breastfeeding from 89% to 81% compared to those mothers who received regular health messages only. This implies that scaling up peer-counselling methods and incorporation of breastfeeding counselling in the existing maternal and child heath programme is needed to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of improving child survival. The recent data showed that the prevalence of starting complementary food among infants aged 6-9 months had increased substantially with 76% in the current dataset. However, the adequacy, frequency, and energy density of the complementary food are in question. Remarkable advances have been made in the hospital management of severely-malnourished children. The protocolized management of severe protein-energy malnutrition at the Dhaka hospital of ICDDR, B has reduced the rate of hospital mortality by 50%. A recent study at ICDDR, B has also documented that home-based management of severe protein-energy malnutrition without follow-up was comparable with a hospital-based protocolized management. Although the community nutrition centres of the NNP have been providing food supplementation and performing growth monitoring of children with protein-energy malnutrition, the referral system and management of complicated severely-malnourished children are still not in place.
PMCID: PMC2740711  PMID: 18831228
Child nutrition; Maternal nutrition; Nutrition disorders; Nutritional status; Protein-energy malnutrition; Bangladesh
21.  The Prevalence of Malnutrition and Effectiveness of STRONGkids Tool in the Identification of Malnutrition Risks among Pediatric Surgical Patients 
Balkan Medical Journal  2014;31(4):313-321.
High prevalence of malnutrition along with the risk for the development of malnutrition in hospitalised children has been reported. However, this problem remains largely unrecognised by healthcare workers.
To determine the prevalence of malnutrition and effectiveness of STRONGkids nutritional risk screening (NRS) tool in the identification of malnutrition risk among pediatric surgical patients.
Study Design:
Cross-sectional study.
A total of 494 pediatric surgical patients (median age 59 months, 75.8% males) were included in this prospective study conducted over 3 months. SD-scores <−2 for Body Mass Index (BMI) for age or weight-for-height (WFH) and height-for-age (HFA) were considered to indicate acute and chronic malnutrition, respectively. The STRONGkids NRS tool was used to determine risk for malnutrition.
Malnutrition was detected in 13.4% in this group of pediatric surgical patients. Acute malnutrition was identified in 10.1% of patients and more commonly in patients aged ≤60 months than aged >60 months (13.4 vs. 6.6%, p=0.012). Chronic malnutrition was identified in 23 (4.6%) of patients with no significant difference between age groups. There were 7 (1.4%) children with coexistent acute and chronic malnutrition. The STRONGkids tool revealed that 35.7% of patients were either in the moderate or high risk group for malnutrition. Malnutrition, as revealed by anthropometric measurements, was more likely in the presence of gastrointestinal (26.9%, p=0.004) and inguinoscrotal/penile surgery (4.0%, p=0.031), co-morbidities affecting nutritional status (p<0.001) and inpatient admissions (p=0.014). Among patients categorized as low risk for malnutrition, there were more outpatients than inpatients (89.3 vs. 10.7%, p<0.001) and more elective surgery cases than emergency surgery cases (93.4 vs. 6.6%, p<0.001).
Providing data on the prevalence of malnutrition and risk of malnutrition in a prospectively recruited group of hospitalised pediatric surgical patients, the data acquired in the present study emphasise the need to raise clinician’s awareness about the importance of nutritional status assessment among hospitalised pediatric patients and the benefits of identifying patients at the risk of nutritional depletion before malnutrition occurs. Our findings support the use of the STRONGkids tool among pediatric surgical patients to identify patients at risk for malnutrition and to increase the physician’s awareness of nutritional assessment among hospitalised patients upon admission.
PMCID: PMC4318402  PMID: 25667785
Hospitalisation; malnutrition; nutritional status; outpatients; pediatric surgery; risk assessment; STRONGkids
22.  Prevalence of malnutrition among settled pastoral Fulani children in Southwest Nigeria 
BMC Research Notes  2008;1:7.
There is a dearth of information on the health of pastoral Fulani children living in southwestern Nigeria. These are fully settled pastoralists whose economy are centred on cattle and farming. In other to monitor and plan appropriate nutritional intervention for their children, a cross-sectional study was carried out to determine the prevalence of malnutrition of pastoral Fulani children.
Fulani's children aged 6 months to 15 years, living in 61 settlements in Kwara, Ogun and Oyo States in Southwestern Nigeria participated in the study. Heights and weights of 164 girls and 167 boys were measured. Their anthropometric indices, height-for-age (HA), weight-for-height (WH), and weight-for-age (WA) Z-scores determined. The prevalence of stunting (HAZ < -2), wasting (WHZ < -2) and underweight (WAZ < -2) was 38.7%, 13.6%, and 38.7%, respectively when compared to the reference NCHS/WHO standard used for defining stunting, wasting and underweight. Boys were more malnourished than the girls were, but this was not significant (stunting: χ2 = 0.36; df = 1; P = 0.54); (underweight: χ2 = 1.10; df = 1; P = 0.29); and (wasting: χ2 = 0.00; df = 1; P = 0.98) The mean of Z-scores of Height-for-age, Weight-for-age and Weight-for-height in children were -1.502, -1.634 and -0.931 respectively. The SD was 1.52, 1.09 and 1.20 respectively. Using WHO Malnutrition Classification systems, 38.7% of the children were found to be malnourished.
These results indicate high prevalence of malnutrition among settled pastoral Fulani children, possibly due to changes in food habits and lifestyle occasion by the transition from nomadic to sedentary living. We suggest the inclusion of Fulani's settlements in nutritional intervention for these areas.
PMCID: PMC2518276  PMID: 18710538
23.  Plasma Phospholipid Fatty Acid Concentration and Incident Coronary Heart Disease in Men and Women: The EPIC-Norfolk Prospective Study 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(7):e1001255.
Kay-Tee Khaw and colleagues analyze data from a prospective cohort study and show associations between plasma concentrations of saturated phospholipid fatty acids and risk of coronary heart disease, and an inverse association between omega-6 polyunsaturated phospholipid fatty acids and risk of coronary heart disease.
The lack of association found in several cohort studies between dietary saturated fat and coronary heart disease (CHD) risk has renewed debate over the link between dietary fats and CHD.
Methods and Findings
We assessed the relationship between plasma phospholipid fatty acid (PFA) concentration and incident CHD using a nested case control design within a prospective study (EPIC-Norfolk) of 25,639 individuals aged 40–79 years examined in 1993–1997 and followed up to 2009. Plasma PFA concentrations were measured by gas chromatography in baseline samples retrieved from frozen storage. In 2,424 men and women with incident CHD compared with 4,930 controls alive and free of cardiovascular disease, mean follow-up 13 years, saturated PFA (14:0, 16:0,18:0) plasma concentrations were significantly associated with increased CHD risk (odds ratio [OR] 1.75, 95% CI 1.27–2.41, p<0.0001), in top compared to bottom quartiles (Q), and omega-6 polyunsaturated PFA concentrations were inversely related (OR 0.77, 0.60–0.99, p<0.05) after adjusting for age, sex, body mass index, blood pressure, smoking, alcohol intake, plasma vitamin C, social class, education, and other PFAs. Monounsaturated PFA, omega-3 PFA, and trans PFA concentrations were not significantly associated with CHD. Odd chain PFA (15:0, 17:0) concentrations were significantly inversely associated with CHD (OR 0.73, 0.59–0.91, p<0.001, Q4 versus Q1). Within families of saturated PFA or polyunsaturated PFA, significantly heterogeneous relationships with CHD were observed for individual fatty acids.
In this study, plasma concentrations of even chain saturated PFA were found to be positively and omega-6 polyunsaturated PFA inversely related to subsequent coronary heart disease risk. These findings are consistent with accumulating evidence suggesting a protective role of omega-6 fats substituting for saturated fats for CHD prevention.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is a condition caused by a build-up of fatty deposits on the inner walls of the blood vessels that supply the heart, causing the affected person to experience pain, usually on exertion (angina). A complete occlusion of the vessel by deposits causes a heart attack (myocardial infarction). Lifestyle factors, such as diet (particularly one high in fat), contribute to causing CHD. There are different types of fat, some of which are thought to increase risk of CHD, such as saturated fat, typically found in meat and dairy foods. However, others, such as unsaturated fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats) found in foods such as vegetable oils, fish, and nuts, may actually help prevent this condition.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although there have been many studies investigating the role of different types of dietary fat in coronary heart disease, it is still not clear whether coronary heart disease can be prevented by changing the type of dietary fat consumed from saturated to unsaturated fats or by lowering all types of dietary fat. Furthermore, many of these studies have relied on participants recalling their dietary intake in questionnaires, which is an unreliable method for different fats. So in this study, the researchers used an established UK cohort to measure the levels of different types of fatty acids in blood to investigate whether a diet high in saturated fatty acids and low in unsaturated fatty acids increases CHD risk.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used a selection of 10,000 participants (all men and women aged 40–79 years) from the prospective European Prospective Investigation into Cancer (EPIC)-Norfolk cohort. Blood samples from the selected participants taken at the start of the study in 1993–1997 were analyzed to determine levels of specific fatty acids. Participants were followed up till 2011. The researchers identified 2,424 participants who were subsequently diagnosed with CHD using death certificates and hospital discharge data and matched these with 4,930 controls who were still alive and free of known coronary disease. The researchers grouped the type of blood fatty acids identified in the blood samples into six families (even chain saturated fatty acid, odd chain saturated fatty acid, omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid, omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid, monounsaturated fatty acid, and trans-fatty acid), which represented saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. Using statistical methods, the researchers then compared the risks of developing CHD between cases and controls by the concentration of fatty acid families after adjusting for age and sex and other factors, such as body mass index, physical activity, and smoking. Using these methods, the researchers found that there was no overall significant relationship between total blood fatty acid concentration and CHD but there was a positive association with increasing blood saturated fatty acid concentration after adjusting for other fatty acid concentrations, with an odds ratio of 1.83 comparing higher versus lower concentrations. This risk was attenuated after adjusting for cholesterol levels, indicating that much of the association between saturated fatty acid and CHD is likely to be mediated through blood cholesterol levels. In contrast, blood omega-6 poly-unsaturated fatty acid concentrations were associated with lower CHD risk. Blood monounsaturated fatty acids, omega-3 poly-unsaturated fatty acids, and trans-fatty acids were not consistently associated with CHD risk. The authors also noted that within families of fatty acids, individual fatty acids related differently to CHD risk.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that plasma concentrations of saturated fatty acids are associated with increased risk of CHD and that concentrations of omega-6 poly-unsaturated fatty acids are associated with decreased risk of CHD. These findings are consistent with other studies and with current dietary advice for preventing CHD, which encourages substituting foods high in saturated fat with n-6 polyunsaturated fats. The results also suggest that different fatty acids may relate differently to CHD risk and that the overall balance between different fatty acids is important. However, there are limitations to this study, such as that factors other than diet (genetic differences in metabolism, for example) may cause changes to blood fatty acid levels so a major question is to identify what factors influence blood fatty acid concentrations. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that individual fatty acids play a role in increasing or decreasing risks of CHD.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Information about the EPIC-Norfolk study is available
The American Heart Foundation provides patient-friendly information about different dietary fats as does Medline
The British Heart Foundation also provides patient-friendly information on heart conditions
PMCID: PMC3389034  PMID: 22802735
24.  The Levels of Ghrelin, TNF-α, and IL-6 in Children with Cyanotic and Acyanotic Congenital Heart Disease 
Mediators of Inflammation  2007;2007:32403.
Background/Aim. Ghrelin has effects on nutrient intake and growth. The cause of growth retardation in congenital heart disease is multifactorial. The aim of the present study is to investigate the ghrelin in congenital heart disease and the association of ghrelin with TNF-α and IL-6. Materials and methods. We measured serum ghrelin, TNF-α, and IL-6 levels using spesific immunoassay in 68 patients (47 acyanotic, 21 cyanotic with congenital heart disease) and in 25 control subjects. Results. In comparison to controls, serum ghrelin, TNF-α levels were significantly higher in acyanotic patients and cyanotic patients with congenital heart disease (P<.0001). In acyanotic and cyanotic patients with congenital heart disease, there was a positive correlation between ghrelin and TNF-α (r=.485, P<.05 and r=.573, P<.01, resp.). Conclusion. Serum ghrelin levels is elevated in acyanotic and cyanotic patients with congenital heart disease. Increased ghrelin levels represents malnutrition and growth retardation in these patients. The relation of ghrelin with cytokines may be explained by the possible effect of chronic congestive heart failure and chronic shunt hypoxemia.
PMCID: PMC2220042  PMID: 18274638
25.  Growth patterns among HIV-exposed infants receiving nevirapine prophylaxis in Pune, India 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2012;12:282.
India has among the highest rates of infant malnutrition. Few studies investigating the growth patterns of HIV-exposed infants in India or the impact of timing of HIV infection on growth in settings such as India exist.
We used data from the Six Week Extended Nevirapine (SWEN) trial to compare the growth patterns of HIV-infected and HIV-exposed but uninfected infants accounting for timing of HIV infection, and to identify risk factors for stunting, underweight and wasting. Growth and timing of HIV infection were assessed at weeks 1, 2, 4, 6, 10, 14 weeks and 6, 9, 12 months of life. Random effects multivariable logistic regression method was used to assess factors associated with stunting, underweight and wasting.
Among 737 HIV-exposed infants, 93 (13%) were HIV-infected by 12 months of age. Among HIV-infected and uninfected infants, baseline prevalence of stunting (48% vs. 46%), underweight (27% vs. 26%) and wasting (7% vs. 11%) was similar (p>0.29), but by 12 months stunting and underweight, but not wasting, were significantly higher in HIV-infected infants (80% vs. 56%, 52% vs. 29%, p< 0.0001; 5% vs. 6%, p=0.65, respectively). These differences rapidly manifested within 4–6 weeks of birth. Infants infected in utero had the worst growth outcomes during the follow-up period. SWEN was associated with non-significant reductions in stunting and underweight among HIV-infected infants and significantly less wasting in HIV-uninfected infants. In multivariate analysis, maternal CD4 < 250, infant HIV status, less breastfeeding, low birth weight, non-vaginal delivery, and infant gestational age were significant risk factors for underweight and stunting.
Baseline stunting and underweight was high in both HIV-infected and uninfected infants; growth indices diverged early and were impacted by timing of infection and SWEN prophylaxis. Early growth monitoring of all HIV-exposed infants is an important low-cost strategy for improving health and survival outcomes of these infants.
Trial Registration
PMCID: PMC3556061  PMID: 23114104
HIV-exposed infants; Growth patterns; India; Extended use of nevirapine; Risk factors; Timing of HIV Infection

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