The impact of malnutrition on childhood infections.
Walson JL., Berkley JA.
PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Almost half of all childhood deaths worldwide occur in children with malnutrition, predominantly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. This review summarizes the mechanisms by which malnutrition and serious infections interact with each other and with children's environments. RECENT FINDINGS: It has become clear that whilst malnutrition results in increased incidence, severity and case fatality of common infections, risks continue beyond acute episodes resulting in significant postdischarge mortality. A well established concept of a 'vicious-cycle' between nutrition and infection has now evolving to encompass dysbiosis and pathogen colonization as precursors to infection; enteric dysfunction constituting malabsorption, dysregulation of nutrients and metabolism, inflammation and bacterial translocation. All of these interact with a child's diet and environment. Published trials aiming to break this cycle using antimicrobial prophylaxis or water, sanitation and hygiene interventions have not demonstrated public health benefit so far. SUMMARY: As further trials are planned, key gaps in knowledge can be filled by applying new tools to re-examine old questions relating to immune competence during and after infection events and changes in nutritional status; and how to characterize overt and subclinical infection, intestinal permeability to bacteria and the role of antimicrobial resistance using specific biomarkers.