Recovery of children following hospitalisation for complicated severe acute malnutrition

Matern Child Nutr. 2022 Apr;18(2):e13302. doi: 10.1111/mcn.13302. Epub 2021 Dec 22.


Nutritional recovery and hospital readmission following inpatient management of complicated severe acute malnutrition (SAM) are poorly characterised. We aimed to ascertain patterns and factors associated with hospital readmission, nutritional recovery and morbidity, in children discharged from hospital following management of complicated SAM in Zambia and Zimbabwe over 52-weeks posthospitalization. Multivariable Fine-Gray subdistribution hazard models, with death and loss to follow-up as competing risks, were used to identify factors associated with hospital readmission; negative binomial regression to assess time to hospitalisation and ordinal logistic regression to model factors associated with nutritional recovery. A total of 649 children (53% male, median age 18.2 months) were discharged to continue community nutritional rehabilitation. All-cause hospital readmission was 15.4% (95% CI 12.7, 18.6) over 52 weeks. Independent risk factors for time to readmission were cerebral palsy (adjusted subhazard ratio (aSHR): 2.96, 95% CI 1.56, 5.61) and nonoedematous SAM (aSHR: 1.64, 95%CI 1.03, 2.64). Unit increases in height-for-age Z-score (HAZ) (aSHR: 0.82, 95% CI 0.71, 0.95) and enrolment in Zambia (aSHR: 0.52, 95% CI 0.28, 0.97) were associated with reduced subhazard of time to readmission. Young age, SAM at discharge, nonoedematous SAM and cerebral palsy were associated with poor nutritional recovery throughout follow-up. Collectively, nonoedematous SAM, ongoing SAM at discharge, cerebral palsy and low HAZ are independent risk factors for readmission and poor nutritional recovery following complicated SAM. Children with these high-risk features should be prioritised for additional convalescent care to improve long-term outcomes.

Keywords: HIV; morbidity; nutritional recovery; readmission; severe acute malnutrition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cerebral Palsy* / therapy
  • Child
  • Female
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Malnutrition*
  • Patient Discharge
  • Patient Readmission
  • Severe Acute Malnutrition* / therapy