South African Journal of Child Health

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The clinical and anthropometric profile of undernourished children aged under 5 admitted to Nyangabgwe Referral Hospital in Botswana

A Madondo, UE MacIntyre, B Ntuli


Background. Although Botswana is a middle-income country,  undernutrition among children younger than 5 years of age is still seen in
various parts of the country. There is little information on the clinical and anthropometric profile of undernourished children in this age group admitted to hospitals in Francistown, Botswana.
Purpose. To determine the clinical profile and the severity of  anthropometric failure of undernourished children aged under 5 admitted to Nyangabgwe Referral Hospital in Francistown.
Method. Data were collected from 113 caregiver-child pairs using a researcher-administered questionnaire targeting caregivers together
with the children’s hospital records. The children’s anthropometric  measurements were taken. Data were analysed using the WHO Anthro
2006 software and Stata 10. Proportions were then calculated.
Results. The median age of the children was 14 months and 55% were boys. The majority of the caregivers were single, younger than 30 years
and lived in rural villages. The most common symptoms on admission were oedema (50%) and coughing (35%). Ten per cent of the children
were HIV-infected and the HIV status of half the children was unknown. The majority (87%) did not present with secondary diagnoses. Severe wasting (<-3 standard deviations (SD)) (73%) was found in all age groups. Stunting (<-2 SD) was prevalent in 68% of the boys, and 95% of the children were severely underweight (<-3 SD).
Conclusion. Oedematous undernutrition was common and 73% of the children presented with severe wasting (<-3 SD). In order to prevent
severe forms of undernutrition, avoid the necessity for complicated care and improve the chances of survival, health education to caregivers
on various forms of undernutrition is crucial.

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