Article Abstract

The clinical spectrum of severe acute malnutrition in children in Cameroon: a hospital-based study in Yaounde, Cameroon

Authors: Andreas Chiabi, Berthe Malangue, Seraphin Nguefack, Félicitée Nguefack Dongmo, Florence Fru, Virginie Takou, Fru Angwafo III


Background: Severe acute malnutrition (SAM) is a major health problem, and the cause of more than half of childhood deaths in children less than 5 years in developing countries. Globally, 20 million children under 5 years of age are severely malnourished according to the World Health Organization (WHO). In Cameroon, the prevalence of SAM remains high and estimated at 1.9% in 2011 and 1.3% in 2014. The aim of this study was to determine the epidemiology, clinical aspects and outcome of SAM at the Yaounde Gynaeco-Obstetric and Pediatric Hospital (YGOPH).
Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the medical records of children hospitalized in the YGOPH for SAM over a period of 8 1/2 years (from September 2006 to March 2015). We included the medical records of children under 15 years of age who were hospitalized in the pediatric unit of the YGOPH for the management of SAM. Data was collected using a data entry form and was analyzed with Epi info version 3.5.4 software. Data was considered statistically significant for P less than 0.05.
Results: The prevalence of SAM was 2.72%. The median age was 9 months (range, 23 days–112 months). The most represented age group was 6 to 12 months with 34.6% of the children. The most frequent symptoms on admission were: wasting (58.1%) and fever (53.6%). The mean interval between the onset of symptoms and admission was 30.36 days. Marasmus was the most frequent clinical form of SAM observed in 88.8% of the children. Respiratory tract infections were the most common comorbidities and were present in 45 patients (25.1%), followed by malaria in 15.1% of cases. The sero-prevalence of human immuno deficiency virus (HIV) was 43.75% amongst the 32 children whose HIV status was known. Dehydration was the most frequent complication, with an occurrence of 29.6%. A total of 58.7% of patients were discharged following clinical improvement and the mortality rate was 15%. The average duration of hospitalization was 8.25 days.
Conclusions: SAM is a frequently encountered pathology in this context with a high mortality, thus the need to step up prevention strategies. Health education during pediatric consultations and vaccination sessions on the appropriate feeding of the young infant and the child should be reinforced.