Malnutrition coupled with diarrheal and respiratory infections among children in Asia: A systematic review

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Abstract

Objective:

The purpose of this systematic literature review was to assess the relationship between malnutrition and respiratory and diarrheal infections among children aged five and under living in Asian countries.

Design and Sample:

The design was adapted from the PRISMA method to include case-control, cross-sectional, ecological, and experimental studies. A review of electronic databases identified 144 articles of which 20 met the inclusion criteria. The inclusion criteria were studies of malnourished children under the age of five with respiratory and/or diarrheal infections, admitted to hospitals or residing in villages throughout countries in Asia, and published between 2005 and 2015.

Measures:

Infection was defined as the presence of a respiratory or diarrheal illness. Malnutrition was predominantly measured by WHO standards.

Results:

Malnutrition is associated with respiratory and diarrheal infections. Children have higher rates of mortality when both malnourished and experiencing a respiratory infection.

Conclusion:

Further research needs to examine the synergetic effect of diarrheal and respiratory infections in malnourished children and rates of mortality. Public health nurses (PHNs) play a critical role in the prevention and treatment of malnutrition and infections in community and national systems. Obtaining better data will allow PHNs to provide critical care in the most underserved areas throughout Asia.

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