To investigate the prevalence, profile and predictors of severe malnutrition in children with congenital heart defects (CHDs).
Case–control, observational study.
Tertiary teaching hospital in Lagos, Nigeria (March 2006 to March 2008).
Children aged 3–192 months with uncorrected symptomatic CHD and healthy controls, frequency matched for age and sex.
Main outcome measures
Prevalence of malnutrition based on WHO/National Center for Health Statistics/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention z score ≤−2; weight for age, weight for height/length and height for age; proportions of underweight, wasting and stunting in cases and controls, and in acyanotic and cyanotic CHD; and predictors of malnutrition using multivariate logistic analysis.
90.4% of cases and 21.1% of controls had malnutrition (p=0.0001), and 61.2% and 2.6%, respectively, had severe malnutrition (p=0.0001). Wasting, stunting and underweight were identified in 41.1%, 28.8% and 20.5%, and 2.6%, 3.9% and 14.5% of cases and controls, respectively. Wasting was significantly higher (58.3%) in acyanotic CHD (p=0.0001), and stunting (68.0%) in cyanotic CHD (p=0.0001). Age at weaning was significantly lower in cases than controls (3.24±0.88 and 7.04±3.04 months, respectively; p=0.0001) and in acyanotic than cyanotic CHD (2.14±0.33 and 5.33±1.22 months, respectively; p=0.004). Predictors of malnutrition in CHD were anaemia, moderate to severe congestive heart failure (CHF), poor dietary intake of fat and prolonged unoperated disease.
Severe malnutrition in association with anaemia and moderate to severe CHF is highly prevalent in CHD preoperatively in these children. Early weaning may be a marker of feeding difficulties in heart failure.