New Research Explores Long-Term Consequences of Severe Childhood Malnutrition


A recent study, titled “Long-term outcomes after severe childhood malnutrition in adolescents in Malawi (LOSCM): a prospective observational cohort study,” published in The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health on February 15, 2024, sheds light on the long-term health outcomes of children who suffered from severe malnutrition during their childhood. The research, led by the University of Liverpool and conducted in collaboration with partners like the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, the Malawi-Liverpool Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Program, and the Kamuzu University of Health Sciences in Malawi, followed a group of Malawian children for 15 years after their treatment for severe malnutrition and compared their health outcomes to their siblings and peers who did not face severe malnutrition in their early years.

The study revealed that a significant number of children with severe childhood malnutrition faced mortality in the years following their treatment. Survivors exhibited persistent negative effects such as lower height and potentially reduced strength compared to their counterparts without a history of severe malnutrition. However, there was evidence of catch-up growth among the survivors in childhood and beyond, offering hope for continued recovery from height deficits post-treatment.

Dr. Marko Kerac from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine emphasized the importance of supporting the nutrition, health, and overall well-being of individuals who have experienced severe childhood malnutrition, stressing the necessity of addressing adverse life circumstances throughout early childhood and adolescence. The findings underscore the need for continued efforts to ensure the long-term health and development of survivors of childhood malnutrition.

Lead researcher Dr. Amir Kirolos highlighted the significance of prevention, early detection, and treatment of severe childhood malnutrition in saving lives. The study underscored the prevalence of poverty, hunger, and HIV among the participants, pointing towards the broader systemic issues contributing to malnutrition in Malawi and globally. Dr. Kirolos emphasized the importance of addressing these underlying factors to allow affected children to not just survive but thrive, reaching their full potential in the long term.

While the study did not find substantial evidence of impaired cognition or heightened cardiometabolic disease risk in the cohort, researchers recommend further investigations in Malawi and other settings to comprehend the long-term health risks as participants transition into adulthood. The study calls for increased research and investment to improve the living conditions and overall circumstances of individuals facing adversity, aiming to enhance the long-term health outcomes of millions of children grappling with malnutrition globally.

In conclusion, the research highlights the critical need for sustained action to address the multi-faceted challenges associated with severe childhood malnutrition, emphasizing the importance of holistic approaches to ensure the well-being and future prospects of individuals affected by this condition.

1.      Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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