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Physical activity level among children recovering from severe acute malnutrition.

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Dr Swati Bhave    20 December 2017

The aim of a new study published in Tropical Medicine & International Health was to assess the level and predictors of physical activity at discharge among children recovering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM).

This prospective study enrolled 69 children between 6 and 59 months of age, admitted with SAM for nutritional rehabilitation at Mulago National Referral Hospital, Uganda. In these patients, physical activity expressed as counts per minute (cpm) was measured, during the last three days of hospital treatment.

The results revealed that at discharge, the mean movement was 285 cpm. While physical activity was 43 cpm higher for each unit increase in weight-for-height z-score (WHZ) and 72 cpm higher for each centimeter increase in mid upper arm circumference (MUAC). Additionally, whole-blood docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) on admission was also a positive predictor of physical activity. On the other hand, duration to transition phase and duration of hospitalization were both negative predictors.

The results were summarized as: the level of physical activity at discharge among children treated for SAM was low; WHZ, MUAC, and DHA on admission were positive predictors of physical activity; whereas duration of stabilization and hospitalization were negative predictors of physical activity. Hence, the findings of this study indicated that assessment of physical activity may be used as a marker of recovery.

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