Prevalence of Under Nutrition and Its Effects on Response to Malaria Treatments Among Children Under Five Years at Ahero and Homa Bay Hospitals, Western Kenya

Kagombe E, Obonyo C, Ayodo G, Were V


Nutritional status of a person with malaria infection is thought to contribute to host treatment outcome. Limited studies have investigated the association despite the widespread concern with nutrition in malaria endemic areas. We evaluated the impact of under nutrition on the treatment outcome by Artemether Lumefantrine and Clindamycin plus Quinine. Sample of 384 children aged below five years diagnosed with uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria, were randomized to receive Clindamycin plus quinine or Artemether-lumefantrine (AL) for treatment. The children were followed up for 28 days to monitor body weight and height, clinical and parasitological parameters of treatment response.Outcomes included parasite clearance at days 2 and 3 and risk of recurrent parasitemia after 28 days of follow-up. Prevalence of underweight was 6 % (n=23) and stunting was 12% (n=45). Body weight increased over the 28 day follow up period. The initial mean weight was 13.03kg while the mean weight on day 28 was 13.7kg.The proportion of children with stunting was comparable between the female and male children: 40% verse 60%, p=0.06. Generally, the prevalence of underweight was comparable between the treatment arms (p=0.08). Similarly, the prevalence of stunting was not significantly different between the treatment arms (p=0.34). Cure rate was high in the Artemether group (96.5%) compared to the Clindamycin group (44.2%). Children who were underweight were 0.69 times less likely to be cured compared to those who were not underweight, but this difference was not significantly different from that of children were had no underweight (p = 0.429). Treatment outcomes were known for 43 of the 45 (95.6%) children with stunting. Overall, stunted children were 1.15 times more likely to be cured compared with children who were not stunted, but this difference was not statistically significant (p=0.704). No association between under nutrition (underweight and stunting) and treatment outcome was observed.  Further research is suggested on the impact of under nutrition on response to malaria treatment using Artemether Lumefantrine alone on children less than five years. Ministry of health and other policy makers may formulate guidelines to improve management of children with malaria taking into consideration their nutritional status, and to integrate nutrition in malaria programmes.

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