Lay-screeners and use of WHO growth standards increase case finding of hospitalized Malawian children with severe acute malnutrition

Sylvia M. LaCourse, Frances M. Chester, Geoffrey Preidis, Leah M. McCrary, Madalitso Maliwichi, Eric D. McCollum, Mina C. Hosseinipour

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives: Strategies to effectively identify and refer children with severe acute malnutrition (SAM) to Nutritional Rehabilitation units (NRU) can reduce morbidity and mortality. Methods: From December 2011 to May 2012, we conducted a prospective study task-shifting inpatient malnutrition screening of Malawian children 6-60 months to lay-screeners and evaluated World Health Organization (WHO) criteria vs. the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) guidelines for SAM. Results: Lay-screeners evaluated 3116 children, identifying 368 (11.8%) with SAM by WHO criteria, including 210 (6.7%) who met NCHS criteria initially missed by standard clinician NRU referrals. Overall case finding increased by 56.7%. Mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) and bipedal edema captured 86% (181/210) NCHS/NRU-eligible children and 89% of those who died (17/19) meeting WHO criteria. Mortality of NCHS/NRU-eligible children was 10 times greater than those without SAM (odds ratio 10.5, 95% confidence interval 5.4-20.6). Conclusions: Ward-based lay-screeners and WHO guidelines identified high-risk children with SAM missed by standard NRU referral. MUAC and edema detected the majority of NRU-eligible children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)44-53
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of tropical pediatrics
Volume61
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015

Keywords

  • Malawi
  • Malnutrition screening
  • Mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC)
  • National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) growth reference
  • Task-shifting
  • WHO growth standard

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Infectious Diseases

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