Background & aims: Children with Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) often suffer from diarrhea, which is associated with increased mortality. The contribution of intestinal bacteria, parasites and viruses to morbidity such as diarrhea in SAM remains poorly understood. To evaluate their association with clinical outcomes, we detected stool pathogens in children with SAM at hospital admission and after clinical stabilization prior to discharge.
Methods: 15 intestinal pathogens, fecal calprotectin and C-reactive protein (CRP) were determined at admission and after clinical stabilization in children aged 8-59 months (n = 47) hospitalized in Malawi for complicated SAM. Differences in fecal pathogens, intestinal and systemic inflammation, and clinical outcomes between time points were evaluated using the Wilcoxon Signed-Rank test or Wilcoxon rank-sum test.
Results: On admission pathogens were present in nearly all children and after clinical stabilization many were cleared with only 55% of children still harboring a pathogen (89% vs. 55%, p = 0.001). Nosocomial infections were infrequent. The pathogens Giardia lamblia and Shigella spp. were most likely to persist. After clinical stabilization, fecal calprotectin was higher in children harboring a pathogen (median (IQR): 383 mg/kg (903-149 mg/kg) vs 140 mg/kg (300-71 mg/kg), p = 0.03). CRP did not correlate with fecal calprotectin levels nor was it associated with pathogen detection. Presence of stool pathogens was not associated with clinical outcomes such as diarrhea.
Conclusions: Fecal pathogens were very common and cleared in most children with complicated SAM treated with antibiotics. The presence of stool pathogens after stabilization was associated with increased intestinal inflammation but not with clinical outcomes. (http://www.isrctn.com/ISRCTN13916953). (c) 2018 European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
- Intestinal infection
- Intestinal pathogens