|Malnutrition and Infection - A review - Nutrition policy discussion paper No. 5 (UNSSCN, 1989, 144 p.)|
|MALNUTRITION AND INFECTION - by Andrew Tomkins and Fiona Watson1|
There is clear evidence of an association between low birth weight (LBW) and increased risk of morbidity and mortality. Few studies have emphasised the difference between results in infants who are born small but well developed (small for gestational age) from those who are born prematurely.
There is no data on colonisation by pathogens among infants of different birth weights.
Chandra (1981) has shown reduction of cellular immunity in both preterm and small for gestational age (SGA) babies. The abnormalities reverted to normal earlier in preterm infants than in SGA infants. As micronutrient deficiencies are relatively frequently found in SGA infants it may be that micronutrient deficiencies caused immune suppression in this study. A further study of LBW infants in Canada (Ferguson 1978) showed a reduction in cellular immunity.
LBW was associated with increased prevalence of diarrhoea among Sri Lankan children, after allowing for birth order and socio-economic group (Mertens et al 1987).
Birth weight and anthropometric indices of Guatemalan infants (weight, length, chest and mid upper arm circumference) were related to risk of subsequent mortality (De Vaquera 1983). The most sensitive predictor of survival was mid upper arm circumference. A similar study among Indian infants (Bhargaram et al 1985) also showed that mid upper arm circumference was a useful predictor of mortality.