Document Type



Women and Child Health; Paediatrics and Child Health


Background and objectives: Acute illness with malnutrition is a common indication for hospitalization among children in low- and middle-income countries. We investigated the association between wasting recovery trajectories and neurodevelopmental outcomes in young children 6 months after hospitalization for an acute illness.
Methods: Children aged 2 to 23 months were enrolled in a prospective observational cohort of the Childhood Acute Illness & Nutrition Network, in Uganda, Malawi, and Pakistan between January 2017 and January 2019. We grouped children on the basis of their wasting recovery trajectories using change in mid-upper arm circumference for age z-score. Neurodevelopment was assessed with the Malawi Developmental Assessment Tool (MDAT development-for-age z-score [DAZ]) at hospital discharge and after 6 months.
Results: We included 645 children at hospital discharge (mean age 12.3 months ± 5.5; 55% male); 262 (41%) with severe wasting, 134 (21%) with moderate wasting, and 249 (39%) without wasting. Four recovery trajectories were identified: high-stable, n = 112; wasted-improved, n = 404; severely wasted-greatly improved, n = 48; and severely wasted-not improved, n = 28. The children in the severely wasted-greatly improved group demonstrated a steep positive MDAT-DAZ recovery slope. This effect was most evident in children with both wasting and stunting (interaction wasted-improved × time × stunting: P < .001). After 6 months, the MDAT DAZ in children with wasting recovery did not differ from community children. In children who never recovered from wasting, there remained a significant delay in MDAT DAZ scores.
Conclusions: Neurodevelopment recovery occurred in parallel with wasting recovery in children convalescing from acute illness and was influenced by stunting.


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