Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

BACKGROUND: Severe acute malnutrition (SAM) remains a major cause of admission and inpatient mortality worldwide in children aged less than 5 years. In this study, we explored SAM prevalence and outcomes in children admitted in 13 Kenyan hospitals participating in a Clinical Information Network (CIN). We also describe their immediate in-patient management. METHODS: We analyzed data for children aged 1-59 months collected retrospectively from medical records after discharge. Mean, median and ranges were used to summarize pooled and age-specific prevalence and mortality associated with SAM. Documentation of key signs and symptoms (S/S) and performance of indicators of quality of care for selected aspects of the WHO management steps were assessed. Logistic regression models were used to evaluate associations between documented S/S and mortality among SAM patients aged 6-59 months. Loess curves were used to explore performance change over time for indicators of selected SAM management steps. RESULTS: 5306/54140 (9.8%) children aged 1-59 months admitted with medical conditions in CIN hospitals between December 2013 and November 2016 had SAM. SAM prevalence identified by clinicians and case fatality varied widely across hospitals with median proportion (range) of 10.1% (4.6-18.2%) and 14.8% (6.0-28.6%) respectively. Seventeen variables were associated with increased mortality. Performance change over time of management steps varied across hospitals and across selected indicators but suggests some effect of regular audit and feedback. CONCLUSION: Identification of SAM patients, their mortality and adherence to in-patient management recommendations varied across hospitals. An important group of SAM patients are aged less than 6 months. Continued efforts are required to improve management of SAM in routine settings as part of efforts to reduce inpatient mortality.

Original publication




Journal article


PLoS One

Publication Date





Acute Disease, Child, Child, Hospitalized, Child, Preschool, Disease Management, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Humans, Infant, Kenya, Male, Malnutrition, Prevalence, Quality of Health Care, Retrospective Studies, Treatment Outcome