Do we need to reconsider the CMAM admission and discharge criteria?; an analysis of CMAM data in South Sudan

Ahn, Eunyong
Kim, Jae Kwang
Ouma, Cyprian
Loha, Mesfin
Dibaba, Asrat
Dyment, Wendy
Kim, Jae Kwang
Beck, Nam Seon
Park, Taesung
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Background: Weight-for-height Z-score (WHZ) and Mid Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC) are both commonly used as acute malnutrition screening criteria. However, there exists disparity between the groups identified as malnourished by them. Thus, here we aim to investigate the clinical features and linkage with chronicity of the acute malnutrition cases identified by either WHZ or MUAC. Besides, there exists evidence indicating that fat restoration is disproportionately rapid compared to that of muscle gain in hospitalized malnourished children but related research at community level is lacking. In this study we suggest proxy measure to inspect body composition restoration responding to malnutrition management among the malnourished children.

Methods: The data of this study is from World Vision South Sudan’s emergency nutrition program from 2006 to 2012 (4443 children) and the nutrition survey conducted in 2014 (3367 children). The study investigated clinical presentations of each type of severe acute malnutrition (SAM) by WHZ (SAM-WHZ) or MUAC (SAM-MUAC), and analysed correlation between each malnutrition and chronic malnutrition. Furthermore, we explored the pattern of body composition restoration during the recovery phase by comparing the relative velocity of MUAC3 with that of weight gain.

Results: As acutely malnourished children identified by MUAC more often share clinical features related to chronic malnutrition and minimal overlapping with malnourished children by WHZ, Therefore, MUAC only screening in the nutrition program would result in delayed identification of the malnourished children.

Conclusions: The relative velocity of MUAC3 gain was suggested as a proxy measure for volume increase, and it was more prominent than that of weight gain among the children with SAM by WHZ and MUAC over all the restoring period. Based on this we made a conjecture about dominant fat mass gain over the period of CMAM program. Also, considering initial weight gain could be ascribed to fat mass increase, the current discharge criteria would leave the malnourished children at risk of mortality even after treatment due to limited restoration of muscle mass. Given this, further research should be followed including assessment of body composition for evidence to recapitulate and reconsider the current admission and discharge criteria for CMAM program.


This article is published as Ahn, E., Ouma, C., Loha, M. et al. Do we need to reconsider the CMAM admission and discharge criteria?; an analysis of CMAM data in South Sudan. BMC Public Health 20, 511 (2020). doi: 10.1186/s12889-020-08657-x.