Background. Asthma and allergic rhinitis are highly prevalent conditions that cause major illness worldwide. This study aimed to assess the association between allergic rhinitis and asthma control in Peruvian school children. Methods. A cross-sectional study was conducted among 256 children with asthma recruited in 5 schools from Lima and Callao cities. The outcome was asthma control assessed by the asthma control test. A score test for trend of odds was used to evaluate the association between allergic rhinitis severity and the prevalence of inadequate asthma control. A generalized linear regression model was used to estimate the adjusted prevalence ratios of inadequate asthma control. Results. Allergic rhinitis was present in 66.4% of the population with asthma. The trend analysis showed a positive association between allergic rhinitis and the probability of inadequate asthma control (P < 0.001). It was associated with an increased prevalence of inadequate asthma control, with adjusted prevalence ratios of 1.53 (95% confidence interval: 1.19−1.98). Conclusion. This study indicates that allergic rhinitis is associated with an inadequate level of asthma control, giving support to the recommendation of evaluating rhinitis to improve asthma control in children.
Robust evidence on interventions to improve the shortage of health workers in rural areas is needed. We assessed stated factors that would attract short-term contract nurses and midwives to work in a rural area of Peru.
Methods and Findings
A discrete choice experiment (DCE) was conducted to evaluate the job preferences of nurses and midwives currently working on a short-term contract in the public sector in Ayacucho, Peru. Job attributes, and their levels, were based on literature review, qualitative interviews and focus groups of local health personnel and policy makers. A labelled design with two choices, rural community or Ayacucho city, was used. Job attributes were tailored to these settings. Multiple conditional logistic regressions were used to assess the determinants of job preferences. Then we used the best-fitting estimated model to predict the impact of potential policy incentives on the probability of choosing a rural job or a job in Ayacucho city. We studied 205 nurses and midwives. The odds of choosing an urban post was 14.74 times than that of choosing a rural one. Salary increase, health center-type of facility and scholarship for specialization were preferred attributes for choosing a rural job. Increased number of years before securing a permanent contract acted as a disincentive for both rural and urban jobs. Policy simulations showed that the most effective attraction package to uptake a rural job included a 75% increase in salary plus scholarship for a specialization, which would increase the proportion of health workers taking a rural job from 36.4% up to 60%.
Urban jobs were more strongly preferred than rural ones. However, combined financial and non-financial incentives could almost double rural job uptake by nurses and midwifes. These packages may provide meaningful attraction strategies to rural areas and should be considered by policy makers for implementation.
Doctors’ scarcity in rural areas remains a serious problem in Latin America and Peru. Few studies have explored job preferences of doctors working in underserved areas. We aimed to investigate doctors’ stated preferences for rural jobs.
Methods and Findings
A labelled discrete choice experiment (DCE) was performed in Ayacucho, an underserved department of Peru. Preferences were assessed for three locations: rural community, Ayacucho city (Ayacucho’s capital) and other provincial capital city. Policy simulations were run to assess the effect of job attributes on uptake of a rural post. Multiple conditional logistic regressions were used to assess the relative importance of job attributes and of individual characteristics. A total of 102 doctors participated. They were five times more likely to choose a job post in Ayacucho city over a rural community (OR 4.97, 95%CI 1.2; 20.54). Salary increases and bonus points for specialization acted as incentives to choose a rural area, while increase in the number of years needed to get a permanent post acted as a disincentive. Being male and working in a hospital reduced considerably chances of choosing a rural job, while not living with a partner increased them. Policy simulations showed that a package of 75% salary increase, getting a permanent contract after two years in rural settings, and getting bonus points for further specialisation increased rural job uptake from 21% to 77%. A package of 50% salary increase plus bonus points for further specialisation would also increase the rural uptake from 21% to 52%.
Doctors are five times more likely to favour a job in urban areas over rural settings. This strong preference needs to be overcome by future policies aimed at improving the scarcity of rural doctors. Some incentives, alone or combined, seem feasible and sustainable, whilst others may pose a high fiscal burden.
Norovirus was detected in 17.4% of 224 diarrhoeal samples from children younger than 24 months of age in Lima, in whom all common pathogens had been excluded (pathogen negative). Norovirus was identified more frequently in children older than 12 months of age than in younger children (34% vs 8%, P<0.001). Among norovirus-positive samples, genogroup II was the predominant group (92%). Compared with rotavirus, norovirus episodes tended to be of shorter duration and less severe. The role of norovirus as a cause of diarrhoea and the ascertainment of its severity in developing countries needs further confirmation by future epidemiological studies.
Norovirus; gastroenteritis; viral genogroup; diarrhoea; children; Peru
Evaluation of interventions on road traffic injuries (RTI) going beyond the assessment of impact to include factors underlying success or failure is an important complement to standard impact evaluations. We report here how we used a qualitative approach to assess current interventions implemented to reduce RTIs in Peru.
We performed in-depth interviews with policymakers and technical officers involved in the implementation of RTI interventions to get their insight on design, implementation and evaluation aspects. We then conducted a workshop with key stakeholders to analyze the results of in-depth interviews, and to further discuss and identify key programmatic considerations when designing and implementing RTI interventions. We finally performed brainstorming sessions to assess potential system-wide effects of a selected intervention (Zero Tolerance), and to identify adaptation and redesign needs for this intervention.
Key programmatic components were consistently identified that should be considered when designing and implementing RTI interventions. They include effective and sustained political commitment and planning; sufficient and sustained budget allocation; training, supervision, monitoring and evaluation of implemented policies; multisectoral participation; and strong governance and accountability. Brainstorming sessions revealed major negative effects of the selected intervention on various system building blocks.
Our approach revealed substantial caveats in current RTI interventions in Peru, and fundamental negative effects on several components of the sectors and systems involved. It also highlighted programmatic issues that should be applied to guarantee an effective implementation and evaluation of these policies. The findings from this study were discussed with key stakeholders for consideration in further designing and planning RTI control interventions in Peru.
The purpose of this study was to determine the presence and quantity of fecal leukocytes in children infected with diarrheagenic Escherichia coli and to compare these levels between diarrhea and control cases. We analyzed 1,474 stool samples from 935 diarrhea episodes and 539 from healthy controls of a cohort study of children younger than 2 years of age in Lima, Peru. Stools were analyzed for common enteric pathogens, and diarrheagenic E. coli isolates were studied by a multiplex real-time PCR. Stool smears were stained with methylene blue and read by a blinded observer to determine the number of polymorphonuclear leukocytes per high-power field (L/hpf). Fecal leukocytes at >10 L/hpf were present in 11.8% (110/935) of all diarrheal episodes versus 1.1% (6/539) in controls (P < 0.001). Among stool samples with diarrheagenic E. coli as the only pathogen isolated (excluding coinfection), fecal leukocytes at >10 L/hpf were present in 8.5% (18/212) of diarrhea versus 1.3% (2/157) of control samples (P < 0.01). Ninety-five percent of 99 diarrheagenic E. coli diarrhea samples were positive for fecal lactoferrin. Adjusting for the presence of blood in stools, age, sex, undernutrition, and breastfeeding, enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC) isolation as a single pathogen, excluding coinfections, was highly associated with the presence of fecal leukocytes (>10 L/hpf) with an odds ratio (OR) of 4.1 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.08 to 15.51; P < 0.05). Although diarrheagenic E. coli was isolated with similar frequencies in diarrhea and control samples, clearly it was associated with a more inflammatory response during symptomatic infection; however, in general, these pathogens elicited a mild inflammatory response.
In developing countries, pneumonia is one of the leading causes of death in children under five years of age and hence timely and accurate diagnosis is critical. In North America, pneumonia is also a common source of childhood morbidity and occasionally mortality. Clinicians traditionally have used the chest radiograph as the gold standard in the diagnosis of pneumonia, but they are becoming increasingly aware that it is not ideal. Numerous studies have shown that chest radiography findings lack precision in defining the etiology of childhood pneumonia. There is no single test that reliably distinguishes bacterial from non-bacterial causes. These factors have resulted in clinicians historically using a combination of physical signs and chest radiographs as a ‘gold standard’, though this combination of tests has been shown to be imperfect for diagnosis and assigning treatment. The objectives of this systematic review are to: 1) identify and categorize studies that have used single or multiple tests as a gold standard for assessing accuracy of other tests, and 2) given the ‘gold standard’ used, determine the accuracy of these other tests for diagnosing childhood bacterial pneumonia.
Methods and Findings
Search strategies were developed using a combination of subject headings and keywords adapted for 18 electronic bibliographic databases from inception to May 2008. Published studies were included if they: 1) included children one month to 18 years of age, 2) provided sufficient data regarding diagnostic accuracy to construct a 2×2 table, and 3) assessed the accuracy of one or more index tests as compared with other test(s) used as a ‘gold standard’. The literature search revealed 5,989 references of which 256 were screened for inclusion, resulting in 25 studies that satisfied all inclusion criteria. The studies examined a range of bacterium types and assessed the accuracy of several combinations of diagnostic tests. Eleven different gold standards were studied in the 25 included studies. Criterion validity was calculated for fourteen different index tests using eleven different gold standards. The most common gold standard utilized was blood culture tests used in six studies. Fourteen different tests were measured as index tests. PCT was the most common measured in five studies each with a different gold standard.
We have found that studies assessing the diagnostic accuracy of clinical, radiological, and laboratory tests for bacterial childhood pneumonia have used a heterogeneous group of gold standards, and found, at least in part because of this, that index tests have widely different accuracies. These findings highlight the need for identifying a widely accepted gold standard for diagnosis of bacterial pneumonia in children.
To assess the risk of developing Type-1 diabetes among children who were exposed to maternal bereavement during the prenatal or 1-year preconception period.
We identified N = 1,548,746 singleton births born in Denmark between January 1st 1979 through December 31st 2004, and their next of kin. Altogether, 39,857 children were exposed to bereavement during their prenatal life. The main outcome of interest was hospitalization for type-1 diabetes (ICD 8: 249; ICD 10: E10).
We found the strongest association for type-1 diabetes among children exposed to traumatic father or sibling deaths (aIRR: 2.03, 1.22–3.38); the association was mainly seen for girls (aIRR: 2.91, 1.61–5.26).
We found evidence to suggest that female fetuses exposed to severe prenatal stress are at increased risk for developing type-1 diabetes.
Private medicine retailers (PMRs) are key partners in the home management of fevers in many settings. Current evidence on effectiveness for PMR interventions at scale is limited. This study presents evaluation findings of two different programs implemented at moderate scale targeting PMRs for malaria control in the Kisii and Kwale districts of Kenya. Key components of this evaluation were measurement of program performance, including coverage, PMR knowledge, practices, and utilization based on spatial analysis.
The study utilized mixed quantitative methods including retail audits and surrogate client surveys based on post-intervention cross-sectional surveys in intervention and control areas and mapping of intervention outlets. There was a large and significant impact on PMR knowledge and practices of the program in Kisii, with 60.5% of trained PMRs selling amodiaquine medicines in adequate doses compared to 2.8% of untrained ones (OR; 53.5: 95% CI 6.7, 428.3), a program coverage of 69.7% targeted outlets, and a potential utilization of about 30,000 children under five. The evaluation in Kwale also indicates a significant impact with 18.8% and 2.3% intervention and control PMRs selling amodiaquine with correct advice, respectively (OR; 9.4: 95% CI 1.1, 83.7), a program coverage of 25.3% targeted outlets, and a potential utilization of about 48,000 children under five. A provisional benchmark of 7.5 km was a reasonable threshold distance for households to access PMR services.
This evaluation show that PMR interventions operationalized in the district level settings are likely to impact PMR knowledge and practices and lead to increased coverage of appropriate treatment to target populations. There is value of evaluating different dimensions of public health programs, including quality, spatial access, and implementation practice. This approach strengthens the potential contribution of pragmatic study designs to evaluating public health programs in the real world.
Recent studies have emphasized the role of psychosocial stressors as a determinant of asthma, and neighborhoods can be a potential source of such stressors. We investigated the association between parental perception of neighborhood safety and reported lifetime asthma among children.
Data for the study came from the 2003–04 National Survey of Children Health (NSCH); a nationally representative cross-sectional sample of children aged 0–17 years. Demographic, socioeconomic and behavioral covariates were included in the study. Models were estimated after taking account of weighting and complex survey design. Parental report of whether the child has ever been diagnosed with asthma by a physician was used to define the outcome. Parental report of perception of neighborhood safety was the main exposure. In unadjusted models, the odds ratio (OR) for reporting asthma associated with living in neighborhoods that were perceived to be sometimes or never safe was 1.36 (95% confidence intervals [CI] 1.21, 1.53) compared to living in neighborhoods that were perceived to be always safe. Adjusting for covariates including exposure to second hand tobacco smoke, mother's self-rated health, child's physical activity and television viewing attenuated this association (OR 1.25, 95% CI 1.08, 1.43). In adjusted models, the increased odds ratio for reporting asthma was also higher among those who perceived neighborhoods as being usually safe (OR 1.15 95% CI 1.06, 1.26), as compared to always safe, suggestive of a dose-response relationship, with the differentials for usually safe and never safe being statistically significant (p = 0.009).
Psychosocial stressors may be important risk factors that may impact the pathogenesis of asthma and/or contribute to asthma morbidity by triggering exacerbations through neuroimmunologic mechanisms, as well as social mechanisms.
The A-allele of the single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), rs9939609, in the FTO gene is associated with increased fatness. We hypothesized that the SNP is associated with morbidity and mortality through the effect on fatness.
In a population of 362,200 Danish young men, examined for military service between 1943 and 1977, all obese (BMI≥31.0 kg/m2) and a random 1% sample of the others were identified. In 1992–94, at an average age of 46 years, 752 of the obese and 876 of the others were re-examined, including measurements of weight, fat mass, height, and waist circumference, and DNA sampling. Hospitalization and death occurring during the following median 13.5 years were ascertained by linkage to national registers. Cox regression analyses were performed using a dominant effect model (TT vs. TA or AA). In total 205 men died. Mortality was 42% lower (p = 0.001) with the TT genotype than in A-allele carriers. This phenomenon was observed in both the obese and the randomly sampled cohort when analysed separately. Adjustment for fatness covariates attenuated the association only slightly. Exploratory analyses of cause-specific mortality and morbidity prior to death suggested a general protective effect of the TT genotype, whereas there were only weak associations with disease incidence, except for diseases of the nervous system.
Independent of fatness, the A-allele of the FTO SNP appears to increase mortality of a magnitude similar to smoking, but without a particular underlying disease pattern barring an increase in the risk of diseases of the nervous system.
To examine the epidemiology of anorexia nervosa in men, we screened Finnish male twins born in 1975–79.
Methods and Findings
Men (N = 2122) from FinnTwin16 birth cohorts were screened for lifetime eating disorders by a questionnaire. The screen positives (N = 18), their male co-twins (N = 10) and those with lifetime minimum BMI≤17.5 (N = 21) were administered the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV anorexia nervosa. The incidence rate of anorexia nervosa for the presumed peak age of risk (10–24y) was 15.7 per 100 000 person-years; its lifetime prevalence was 0.24%. All probands had recovered from eating disorders, but suffered from substantial psychiatric comorbidity, which also manifested in their co-twins. Additionally, male co-twins displayed significant dissatisfaction with body musculature, a male-specific feature of body dysmorphic disorder.
Anorexia nervosa in males in the community is more common, transient and accompanied by more substantial comorbidity than previously thought.
Sub-national analyses of causes of death and time-trends help to define public health policy priorities. They are particularly important in countries undergoing epidemiological transition like Peru. There are no studies exploring Peruvian national and regional characteristics of such epidemiological transition. We aimed to describe Peru's national and regional mortality profiles between 1996 and 2000.
Registered mortality data for the study period were corrected for under-registration following standardized methods. Main causes of death by age group and by geographical region were determined. Departmental mortality profiles were constructed to evaluate mortality transition, using 1996 data as baseline. Annual cumulative slopes for the period 1996–2000 were estimated for each department and region.
For the study period non-communicable diseases explained more than half of all causes of death, communicable diseases more than one third, and injuries 10.8% of all deaths. Lima accounted for 32% of total population and 20% of total deaths. The Andean region, with 38% of Peru's population, accounted for half of all country deaths. Departmental mortality predominance shifted from communicable diseases in 1996 towards non-communicable diseases and injuries in 2000. Maternal and perinatal conditions, and nutritional deficiencies and nutritional anaemia declined markedly in all departments and regions. Infectious diseases decreased in all regions except Lima. In all regions acute respiratory infections are a leading cause of death, but their proportion ranged from 9.3% in Lima and Callao to 15.3% in the Andean region. Tuberculosis and injuries ranked high in Lima and the Andean region.
Peruvian mortality shows a double burden of communicable and non-communicable, with increasing importance of non-communicable diseases and injuries. This challenges national and sub-national health system performance and policy making.
Phenylketonuria (PKU) is a metabolic disorder caused by impaired phenylalanine hydroxylase (PAH). This condition results in hyperphenylalaninemia and elevated levels of abnormal phenylalanine metabolites, among which is phenylacetic acid/phenylacetate (PA). In recent years, PA and its analogs were found to have anticancer activity against a variety of malignancies suggesting the possibility that PKU may offer protection against cancer through chronically elevated levels of PA. We tested this hypothesis in a genetic mouse model of PKU (PAHenu2) which has a biochemical profile that closely resembles that of human PKU. Plasma levels of phenylalanine in homozygous (HMZ) PAHenu2 mice were >12-fold those of heterozygous (HTZ) littermates while tyrosine levels were reduced. Phenylketones, including PA, were also markedly elevated to the range seen in the human disease. Mice were subjected to 7,12 dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (DMBA) carcinogenesis, a model which is sensitive to the anticancer effects of the PA derivative 4-chlorophenylacetate (4-CPA). Tumor induction by DMBA was not significantly different between the HTZ and HMZ mice, either in total tumor development or in the type of cancers that arose. HMZ mice were then treated with 4-CPA as positive controls for the anticancer effects of PA and to evaluate its possible effects on phenylalanine metabolism in PKU mice. 4-CPA had no effect on the plasma concentrations of phenylalanine, phenylketones, or tyrosine. Surprisingly, the HMZ mice treated with 4-CPA developed an unexplained neuromuscular syndrome which precluded its use in these animals as an anticancer agent. Together, these studies support the use of PAHenu2 mice as a model for studying human PKU. Chronically elevated levels of PA in the PAHenu2 mice were not protective against cancer.
Hepcidin, a key regulator of iron homeostasis, is increased in response to inflammation and some infections, but the in vivo role of hepcidin, particularly in children with iron deficiency anemia (IDA) is unclear. We investigated the relationships between hepcidin, cytokines and iron status in a pediatric population with a high prevalence of both anemia and co-morbid infections.
African refugee children <16 years were consecutively recruited at the initial post-resettlement health check with 181 children meeting inclusion criteria. Data on hematological parameters, cytokine levels and co-morbid infections (Helicobacter pylori, helminth and malaria) were obtained and urinary hepcidin assays performed. The primary outcome measure was urinary hepcidin levels in children with and without iron deficiency (ID) and/or ID anaemia (IDA). The secondary outcome measures included were the relationship between co-morbid infections and (i) ID and IDA, (ii) urinary hepcidin levels and (iii) cytokine levels. IDA was present in 25/181 (13.8%). Children with IDA had significantly lower hepcidin levels (IDA median hepcidin 0.14 nmol/mmol Cr (interquartile range 0.05–0.061) versus non-IDA 2.96 nmol/mmol Cr, (IQR 0.95–6.72), p<0.001). Hemoglobin, log-ferritin, iron, mean cell volume (MCV) and transferrin saturation were positively associated with log-hepcidin levels (log-ferritin beta coefficient (β): 1.30, 95% CI 1.02 to 1.57) and transferrin was inversely associated (β: −0.12, 95% CI −0.15 to −0.08). Cytokine levels (including IL-6) and co-morbid infections were not associated with IDA or hepcidin levels.
This is the largest pediatric study of the in vivo associations between hepcidin, iron status and cytokines. Gastro-intestinal infections (H. pylori and helminths) did not elevate urinary hepcidin or IL-6 levels in refugee children, nor were they associated with IDA. Longitudinal and mechanistic studies of IDA will further elucidate the role of hepcidin in paediatric iron regulation.
Life at altitude depends on adaptation to ambient hypoxia. In the Andes, susceptibility to chronic mountain sickness (CMS), a clinical condition that occurs to native highlanders or to sea level natives with prolonged residence at high altitude, remains poorly understood. We hypothesized that hypoxia-associated gene expression in children of men with CMS might identify markers that predict the development of CMS in adults. We assessed distinct patterns of gene expression of hypoxia-responsive genes in children of highland Andean men, with and without CMS.
We compared molecular signatures in children of highland (HA) men with CMS (n = 10), without CMS (n = 10) and in sea level (SL) children (n = 20). Haemoglobin, haematocrit, and oxygen saturation were measured. Gene expression in white cells was assessed at HA and then, in the same subjects, within one hour of arrival at sea level.
HA children showed higher expression levels of genes regulated by HIF (hypoxia inducible factor) and lower levels of those involved in glycolysis and in the tricarboxilic acid (TCA) cycle. Pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase 1(PDK1) and HIF prolyl hydroxylase 3 (HPH3) mRNA expressions were lowest in children of CMS fathers at altitude. At sea level the pattern of gene expression in the 3 children's groups was indistinguishable.
The molecular signatures of children of CMS patients show impaired adaptation to hypoxia. At altitude children of CMS fathers had defective coupling between glycolysis and mitochondria TCA cycle, which may be a key mechanism/biomarker for adult CMS. Early biologic markers of disease susceptibility in Andeans might impact health services and social planning.
The study of the biology of evolution has been confined to laboratories and model organisms. However, controlled laboratory conditions are unlikely to model variations in environments that influence selection in wild populations. Thus, the study of “fitness” for survival and the genetics that influence this are best carried out in the field and in matching environments.
Therefore, we studied highland populations in their native environments, to learn how they cope with ambient hypoxia. The Andeans, African highlanders and Himalayans have adapted differently to their hostile environment.
Chronic mountain sickness (CMS), a loss of adaptation to altitude, is common in the Andes, occasionally found in the Himalayas; and absent from the East African altitude plateau.
We compared molecular signatures (distinct patterns of gene expression) of hypoxia-related genes, in white blood cells (WBC) from Andeans with (n = 10), without CMS (n = 10) and sea-level controls from Lima (n = 20) with those obtained from CMS (n = 8) and controls (n = 5) Ladakhi subjects from the Tibetan altitude plateau. We further analyzed the expression of a subset of these genes in Ethiopian highlanders (n = 8). In all subjects, we performed the studies at their native altitude and after they were rendered normoxic.
We identified a gene that predicted CMS in Andeans and Himalayans (PDP2). After achieving normoxia, WBC gene expression still distinguished Andean and Himalayan CMS subjects.
Remarkably, analysis of the small subset of genes (n = 8) studied in all 3 highland populations showed normoxia induced gene expression changes in Andeans, but not in Ethiopians nor Himalayan controls. This is consistent with physiologic studies in which Ethiopians and Himalayans show a lack of responsiveness to hypoxia of the cerebral circulation and of the hypoxic ventilatory drive, and with the absence of CMS on the East African altitude plateau.
Information on profiles for under-five causes of death is important to guide choice of child-survival interventions. Global level data have been published, but information at country level is scarce. We aimed at defining national and departmental trends and profiles of under-five mortality in Peru from 1996 through 2000.
We used the Ministry of Health registered under-five mortality data. For correction of under-registration, a model life-table that fitted the age distribution of the population and of registered deaths was identified for each year. The mortality rates corresponding to these model life-tables were then assigned to each department in each particular year. Cumulative reduction in under-five mortality rate in the 1996–2000 period was estimated calculating the annual reduction slope for each department. Departmental level mortality profiles were constructed. Differences in mortality profiles and in mortality reduction between coastal, andean and jungle regions were also assessed.
At country level, only 4 causes (pneumonia, diarrhoea, neonatal diseases and injuries) accounted for 68% of all deaths in 1996, and for 62% in 2000. There was 32.7% of under-five death reduction from 1996 to 2000. Diarrhoea and pneumonia deaths decreased by 84.5% and 41.8%, respectively, mainly in the andean region, whereas deaths due to neonatal causes and injuries decreased by 37.2% and 21.7%. For 1996–2000 period, the andean, coast and jungle regions accounted for 52.4%, 33.1% and 14.4% of deaths, respectively. These regions represent 41.0%, 46.4% and 12.6% of under-five population. Both diarrhoea and pneumonia constitute 30.6% of under-five deaths in the andean region. As a proportion, neonatal deaths remained stable in the country from 1996 to 2000, accounting for about 30% of under-five deaths, whereas injuries and "other" causes, including congenital anomalies, increased by about 5%.
Under-five mortality declined substantially in all departments from 1996 to 2000, which is explained mostly by reduction in diarrhoea and pneumonia deaths, particularly in the andean region. There is the need to emphasize interventions to reduce neonatal deaths and emerging causes of death such as injuries and congenital anomalies.
Anaemia is highly prevalent in children of developing countries. It is associated with impaired physical growth and mental development. Palmar pallor is recommended at primary level for diagnosing it, on the basis of few studies. The objective of the study was to systematically assess the accuracy of clinical signs in the diagnosis of anaemia in children.
A systematic review on the accuracy of clinical signs of anaemia in children. We performed an Internet search in various databases and an additional reference tracking. Studies had to be on performance of clinical signs in the diagnosis of anaemia, using haemoglobin as the gold standard. We calculated pooled diagnostic likelihood ratios (LR's) and odds ratios (DOR's) for each clinical sign at different haemoglobin thresholds.
Eleven articles met the inclusion criteria. Most studies were performed in Africa, in children underfive. Chi-square test for proportions and Cochran Q for DOR's and for LR's showed heterogeneity. Type of observer and haemoglobin technique influenced the results. Pooling was done using the random effects model. Pooled DOR at haemoglobin <11 g/dL was 4.3 (95% CI 2.6–7.2) for palmar pallor, 3.7 (2.3–5.9) for conjunctival pallor, and 3.4 (1.8–6.3) for nailbed pallor. DOR's and LR's were slightly better for nailbed pallor at all other haemoglobin thresholds. The accuracy did not vary substantially after excluding outliers.
This meta-analysis did not document a highly accurate clinical sign of anaemia. In view of poor performance of clinical signs, universal iron supplementation may be an adequate control strategy in high prevalence areas. Further well-designed studies are needed in settings other than Africa. They should assess inter-observer variation, performance of combined clinical signs, phenotypic differences, and different degrees of anaemia.
The evidence base of clinical interventions in paediatric hospitals of developing countries has not been formally assessed. We performed this study to determine the proportion of evidence-based therapeutic interventions in a paediatric referral hospital of a developing country
The medical records of 167 patients admitted in one-month period were revised. Primary diagnosis and primary therapeutic interventions were determined for each patient. A systematic search was performed to assess the level of evidence for each intervention. Therapeutic interventions were classified using the Ellis score and the Oxford Centre for Evidence Based Medicine Levels of Evidence
Any dehydration due to diarrhoea (59 cases) and pneumonia (42 cases) were the most frequent diagnoses. Based on Ellis score, level I evidence supported the primary therapeutic intervention in 21%, level II in 73% and level III in 6% cases. Using the Oxford classification 16%, 8%, 1% and 75% therapeutic interventions corresponded to grades A, B, C, and D recommendations, respectively. Overall, according to Ellis score, 94% interventions were evidence based. However, out of the total, 75% interventions were based on expert opinion or basic sciences. Most children with mild to moderate dehydration (52 cases) were inappropriately treated with slow intravenous fluids, and most children with non-complicated community acquired pneumonia (42 cases) received intravenous antibiotics
Most interventions were inappropriate, despite the availability of effective therapy for several of them. Diarrhoeal dehydration and community acquired pneumonia were the most common diagnoses and were inappropriately managed. Existing effective interventions for dehydration and pneumonia need to be put into practice at referral hospitals of developing countries. For the remaining problems, there is the need to conduct appropriate clinical studies. Caution must be taken when assigning the level of evidence supporting therapeutic interventions, as commonly used classifications may be misleading