Outpatient treatment of severe acute malnutrition: Response to treatment with a reduced schedule of therapeutic food distribution

Sheila Isanaka, Stephen R. Kodish, Fatou Berthé, Ian Alley, Fabienne Nackers, Kerstin E. Hanson, Rebecca F. Grais

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: Community-based management of severe acute malnutrition (SAM) has been shown to be safe and cost-effective, but program coverage remains low. Treatment models that maintain high levels of clinical effectiveness but allow for increased coverage are still needed. A reduced schedule of follow-up, in which children receive clinical follow-up and therapeutic foods on a monthly rather than weekly basis, may be one alternative. Objective: We aimed to describe the safety and feasibility of a monthly distribution of ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) in the treatment of uncomplicated SAM, in terms of clinical response to treatment and household RUTF use. Design: We conducted a nonrandomized pilot intervention study in which 115 children eligible for outpatient treatment of SAM were provided a monthly ration of RUTF. Anthropometric measurements were taken weekly for 4 wk to monitor treatment response. Unannounced household spot checks were conducted over 4 wk to assess household use of RUTF and storage practices. Results: Adequate weight and midupper arm circumference (MUAC) gain were found throughout the 4-wk follow-up period. Observed mean 6 SD weight gain from admission was 9.8 6 6.8 g kg-1 d-1 in week 1 and 4.2 6 2.1 g kg-1 d-1 by week 4. Unplanned household spot checks found an average surplus of RUTF sachets compared with the number expected based on the date of distribution and recommended dosing throughout the 4 wk of follow-up. The frequency at which more than the recommended dose was used (i.e., deviance of .2 sachets between available and expected stocks) was 4% and 22% of households visited in week 1 and week 4, respectively. Conclusion: Adequate treatment response and RUTF use in the outpatient treatment of SAM was maintained over 4 wk of follow-up with a monthly schedule of RUTF distribution. This study was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT02994212.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1191-1197
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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