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ASTMH: Pneumonia May Stunt Children's Growth

Ecuadorian children with pneumonia show decrements in height, weight and mid-upper arm circumference

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Childhood bouts of pneumonia may lead to persistent stunting and weight loss, according to research conducted in Ecuador and presented this week at the 55th annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in Atlanta.

Jeffrey K. Griffiths, M.D., M.P.H., of Tufts University in Boston, and colleagues studied 2,582 normal and malnourished urban Ecuadorian children ages 6 months to 36 months who were randomly assigned to receive either low-dose vitamin A and/or zinc or placebo for up 50 weeks.

The researchers identified 518 pneumonia cases in 378 children and found that pneumonia episodes were associated with mean decrements of -0.187 in height-for-age Z-scores, -0.091 in weight-for-age Z-scores, and -0.094 in mid-upper arm circumference scores. They also found that the decrements were most significant in females and in children under age 18 months, and were not affected by micronutrient supplementation.

"The overall, population-wide adverse nutritional impact of pneumonia may be comparable to that of diarrheal disease," the authors conclude. "Children with pneumonia at risk of stunting and weight loss may benefit from nutritional support to decrease subsequent adverse medical, cognitive and social effects."


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