Long-stay versus short-stay hospital treatment of children suffering from severe protein-energy malnutrition

Eur J Clin Nutr. 1994 Dec;48(12):873-82.


Objective: To contrast early discharge versus attempted full nutritional rehabilitation in hospital of children suffering from severe protein-energy malnutrition (PEM).

Design: Field experiment, two-way analysis of variance with one between group (short- versus long-stay) and one repeated measures factor (admission, then 12, 18, 24, 30 and 36 months post-admission). Covariates introduced.

Setting: Primary health care, Kingston, Jamaica.

Subjects: n = 81; mean age 11 months; 79 contribute longitudinal data; 44 every measurement.

Interventions: When concurrent illnesses had been treated and normal feeding re-established (weight gain 5 g/kg.day-1), subjects were randomly allocated to short-stay (SS) or long-stay (LS) group. LS retained in hospital for full nutritional rehabilitation mean 40 days). SS discharged immediately (mean 18 days) for standard Health Service care at home for 6 months plus high-energy supplement (3.31 MJ with 20.6 g protein daily) for first 3 months. After discharge LS received 6 months home care, but without supplementation.

Results: Significant advantages for LS group on NCHS weight & length for age at discharge, and at 12, 18, 24 and for length also 30 months (P < 0.05 to P < 0.001). Weight advantage peaked at 12 and 18 months, length later at 18 and 24 months.

Conclusions: Contrary to earlier reports, full nutritional rehabilitation can be achieved in hospital for children suffering from PEM. Although in the long-term both groups move towards expected levels in their home community, a significant advantage maintained for approximately 2 years is developmentally advantageous during the critical time after weaning.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Body Height
  • Body Weight
  • Child Nutrition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Child Nutrition Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Length of Stay*
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Protein-Energy Malnutrition / diagnosis
  • Protein-Energy Malnutrition / rehabilitation*