Biological Risk Factors for Fatal Protein Energy Malnutrition in Hospitalized Children in Zaire

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Abstract

SummaryBiological markers were used in an attempt to predict mortality in children admitted to the hospital in Kivu, Zaire, for protein energy malnutrition. Data for 39 children who died (16.4%) showed significantly lower levels of albumin (1.61 vs. 2.53 g/dl; p < 0.001), transferrin (82.1 vs. 167.7 mg/dl; p < 0.001), and transthyretin (6.49 vs. 9.87 mg/dl; p < 0.001), but not of retinol-binding protein, than for the 199 survivors. Since albumin and transferrin were correlated, a Cox model was used to see whether albumin or transferrin has a significant predictive value independent of transthyretin. The relative risk predicted by each indicator was of the same order of magnitude, ∼4. We conclude that specific biological markers help to discriminate among hospitalized subjects at risk and to identify those in need of more intensive nutritional support to prevent early death.

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