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The prevalence of malnutrition in children admitted to a general paediatric ward at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital: A cross-sectional survey

Janine Brink, John Morley Pettifor, Sanjay Govind Lala

Abstract


Background. The prevalence of malnutrition, an important contributor to childhood mortality, is poorly described in hospitalised South African (SA) children, many of whom are HIV-exposed or HIV-infected. 

Objectives. To describe the prevalence of malnutrition in infants and children <14 years of age admitted to a general paediatric ward at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital in Soweto, SA, and to compare the nutritional status of infants <18 months of age who were HIV-unexposed, HIV-exposed but uninfected (HEU) or HIV-infected. 

Methods. A cross-sectional nutritional survey was conducted on 222 admitted children. A total of 139 infants were <18 months of age.

Results. Stunting was the most common form of malnutrition (40.5%), followed by underweight-for-age (33.3%) and wasting (23.4%). Of 175 children aged <5 years, 22 (12.6%) were severely wasted. Twenty-four (10.8%) children were HIV-infected: 6 children were <18 months, 3 were ≥18 months but <5 years and 15 children were ≥5 years. For children ≤18 months, HEU children (n=56) were significantly more underweight and stunted than their HIV-unexposed peers (n=77); weight-for-age and height-for-age median z-scores for these groups were –1.81 v. –0.63 (p=0.0038) and –2.51 v. –0.51 (p=0.004), respectively. 

Conclusion. Malnutrition is prevalent in hospitalised children, with stunting being the most common form. The prevalence of HIV-infection is decreasing in younger children, but HEU children, who constitute a large proportion of total hospital admissions, have high rates of malnutrition, especially stunting.


Authors' affiliations

Janine Brink, Department of Paediatrics, School of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand and Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital, Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa

John Morley Pettifor, Department of Paediatrics, School of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand and Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital, Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa

Sanjay Govind Lala, Department of Paediatrics, School of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand and Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital, Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa

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Keywords

Malnutrition; Stunting; HIV

Cite this article

South African Journal of Child Health 2014;8(3):112-116. DOI:10.7196/SAJCH.787

Article History

Date submitted: 2014-05-15
Date published: 2014-08-15

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