Effectiveness of Alternative Diets During the Stabilization Phase on Children With Complicated SAM

  • End date
    Aug 9, 2024
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    University Ghent
Updated on 28 November 2021


Severe acute malnutrition (SAM) is a life threatening condition and is defined by 1) a weight-for-height Z-score more than three standard deviations (SD) below the median based on the 2006 World Health Organization (WHO) growth standards, 2) a mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) of less than 115 mm or 3) by the presence of nutritional edema. Signs such as edema, mucocutaneous changes, hepatomegaly, lethargy, anorexia, anemia, severe immune deficiency and rapid progression to mortality characterize a state commonly coined as "complicated SAM". Kwashiorkor is one of the forms of complicated SAM commonly distinguished by the unmistakable presence of bipedal edema. SAM results in high mortality rates of up to half a million child deaths annually. Undernourished children are at higher risk of mortality ranging from three times more risk among children with moderate malnutrition to 10-times in SAM children compared to well-nourished children. Children with complicated SAM require inpatient treatment in specialized centers.

The "Rehabilitation and Nutritional Education Center" (CREN) is a specialized center in Burkina Faso receiving on average 10 SAM children per day. Recovery rate is lower than international standards; and adverse events and mortality remain strikingly high.

Our main objective is to assess the underlying risk factors affecting the effectiveness of the nutritional therapeutic treatment protocol for complicated SAM children under 5 years of age who have been referred to the CREN, at the Centre Hspitalier Universitaire Souro, Bobo Dioulasso, Burkina Faso.

The specific objective is to assess the effectiveness of alternative dietary regimens during the stabilization phase on well-specified clinical and biochemical outcomes in children with complicated SAM. Dietary regimens differ by their carbohydrate profile and content, and by their different micronutrient composition including vitamin A, iron and zinc.


Severe acute malnutrition (SAM), defined as severe wasting [weight-to-height Z-score < -3 standard deviations (SD), based on the WHO Child Growth Standards] and / or the presence of nutritional edema, and / or mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) <115 mm, is a condition that requires urgent attention and appropriate management to reduce mortality and promote recovery among children. Management of SAM children without complications is provided at the community level. Hospitalization in specialized care centers is necessary for SAM children with complications. SAM children with comorbidities have a greater risk of mortality and treatment failure. Our knowledge of the specific adequate nutritional needs of SAM is limited.

For the treatment of SAM in hospital, the WHO recommends the use of therapeutic milk low in protein 'F75' in the stabilization phase; and more protein-rich F100 or F75 combined with ready-to-use therapeutic foods (RUTF) in the transition phase. The WHO also recommends using as an alternative formula made of cereal flour, skimmed milk powder, oil, sugar, and a therapeutic vitamin and mineral complex (CMV), in case of shortage of the standard therapeutic milk F75 / F100 or in case of signs of intolerance (vomiting, diarrhea).

The Refeeding Center - Centre de Rcupration et d'Education Nutritionnelle (CREN) of the Sour Sanou University Hospital Center (CHUSS) in Burkina Faso specializes in the care of SAM children with complications. In 2018, out of 500 children aged 6-59 months admitted for SAM with complications, the CHUSS CREN registered 86.8% full recovery, 8.2% dropout and 5% death. Although the recovery rate is higher than international standards (greater than 75%), the mortality rate remains higher than the recommended 3% by international standards; in addition to the challenges that are faced locally in maintaining high standards of care. At the CREN, we observed that some SAM children with complications can have severe diarrhea and vomiting after taking F75 (first phase of the nutritional treatment). It was also observed that other SAM children with edema, whose edema resolved in the first phase of treatment under F75, redeveloped edema when they received RUTF (Plumpy Nut) in the transition phase according to the WHO 2013 protocol.

The second objective of the study is to assess the risk factors affecting the response to dietary treatment in this center (the CREN, Burkina Faso) and to compare alternatives for treatment during the nutritional rehabilitation.

Problematic It was observed at the Refeeding Center (CREN) of the Sour Sanou University Hospital (CHUSS) in Bobo Dioulasso, that SAM children with complications show during their treatment, signs of intolerance to F75 (diarrhea , vomiting). The pathophysiology of diarrhea in SAM involves several theories including that of lactose intolerance, and that of alteration of the intestinal microbiota.

The study aims to assess the effectiveness of diet regimens [standard F75, or alternative F75 + mineral vitamin complex (CMV), or alternative F75 without CMV] during the stabilization phase from both a clinical and biochemical aspects in children with complicated SAM. Diets differ in their profile and carbohydrate content, and in their different micronutrient compositions, including vitamin A, iron and zinc.

Our hypothesis is that the F75 alternative during the stabilization phase (the first phase) of complicated SAM children is associated with better compliance, less diarrhea and better outcomes than the recommended F75 formulation; and that children treated correctly with the F75 alternative containing CMV will perform better than the other two groups of children treated with F75 or the F75 alternative without CMV.

This will be an open, randomized controlled trial aimed at testing the effectiveness of three therapeutic diet regimens during the first phase of hospital management of children with complicated SAM admitted to CREN, Bobo Dioulasso.

After obtaining informed consent from parents / guardians for the inclusion of the child, the child will be randomized and will receive their assigned treatment. In accordance with the 2014 protocol for the management of SAM in Burkina Faso, an antibiotic will be given as part of the systematic treatment of complicated SAM, and other medical treatments depending on the associated complication. Deworming is provided also gratis, will be done only in children whose tests are positive for intestinal parasites and ONLY in the rehabilitation phase (the third phase of the treatment) as per the National Protocol for the management of complicated SAM. The dietetic treatment will be given by the nurses every 2 hours on the first day; then if tolerance is good, every 3 hours the following days. No family meals during phase 1. But the baby can breastfeed. The observance and tolerance of the treatment will be noted by the nurses: amount of milk taken, refusal, vomiting, diarrhea, presence of a nasogastric tube. The quantities will be given according to the weight of the child, the presence or not of edema, in accordance with the national protocol.

Condition protein malnutrition, Severe Acute Malnutrition, Nutritional marasmus, Kwashiorkor, Nutritional Edema
Treatment Standard F75, Alternative F75 With CMV, Alternative F75 Without CMV
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT05020847
SponsorUniversity Ghent
Last Modified on28 November 2021


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Severe acute malnutrition defined as Weight-for-Height Z-score (WHZ) <\- 3 SD AND / OR MUAC <115 mm AND / OR with edema
With complications
Who are admitted and treated in the refeeding center (CREN) of the CHUSS
Aged between 6 and 59 Months
Parental Signed informed consent form

Exclusion Criteria

Children younger than 6 months or older than 59 months of age
Moderate Acute Malnutrition (MAM)
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