Predictors of recovery in children aged 6-59 months with uncomplicated severe acute malnutrition: a multicentre study

Public Health Nutr. 2021 Oct;24(15):4899-4907. doi: 10.1017/S1368980020004723. Epub 2020 Nov 23.


Objective: To identify predictors of recovery in children with uncomplicated severe acute malnutrition (SAM).

Design: This is a secondary data analysis from an individual randomised controlled trial, where children with uncomplicated SAM were randomised to three feeding regimens, namely ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) sourced from Compact India, locally prepared RUTF or augmented home-prepared foods, under two age strata (6-17 months and 18-59 months) for 16 weeks or until recovery. Three sets of predictors that could influence recovery, namely child, family and nutritional predictors, were analysed.

Setting: Rural and urban slum areas of three states of India, namely Rajasthan, Delhi and Tamil Nadu.

Participants: In total, 906 children (age: 6-59 months) were analysed to estimate the adjusted hazard ratio (AHR) using the Cox proportional hazard ratio model to identify various predictors.

Results: Being a female child (AHR: 1·269 (1·016, 1·584)), better employment status of the child's father (AHR: 1·53 (1·197, 1·95)) and residence in a rental house (AHR: 1·485 (1·137, 1·94)) increased the chances of recovery. No hospitalisation (AHR: 1·778 (1·055, 2·997)), no fever, (AHR: 2·748 (2·161, 3·494)) and ≤ 2 episodes of diarrhoea (AHR: 1·579 (1·035, 2·412)) during the treatment phase; availability of community-based peer support to mothers for feeding (AHR: 1·61 (1·237, 2·097)) and a better weight-for-height Z-score (WHZ) at enrolment (AHR: 1·811 (1·297, 2·529)) predicted higher chances of recovery from SAM.

Conclusion: The probability of recovery increases in children with better WHZ and with the initiation of treatment for acute illnesses to avoid hospitalisation, availability of peer support and better employment status of the father.

Keywords: Predictors; Ready-to-use therapeutic food; Recovery; Severe acute malnutrition.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • India
  • Infant
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Rural Population
  • Severe Acute Malnutrition*