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Severe malnutrition 

Severe malnutrition
Chapter:
Severe malnutrition
Author(s):

Alan A. Jackson

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198746690.003.0221
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date: 26 February 2021

Severe malnutrition is the consequence of systemic deficiency of energy and nutrients over a prolonged period: in children development is stunted and the individual is at risk of fatal (often clinically ‘silent’) infection and other illnesses. It is a medical and societal emergency: mortality is high, despite attempts to provide appropriate care.

When severe malnutrition affects several individuals in a society, it reflects a state in which basic needs and justice are not met. Severe malnutrition may also result from clinical disorders affecting a single person with gastrointestinal disease, poor appetite, or reduced food intake for other reasons. The World Health Organization has produced guidelines for facility-based care of patients suffering severe malnutrition, and this chapter explains the diagnosis, treatment, and management of the condition, along with its possible complications.

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