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Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Oct;80(4):1036-42.

Malnourished children and supplementary feeding during the war emergency in Guinea-Bissau in 1998-1999.

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  • 1Bandim Health Project, Bissau, Guinea-Bissau, and the Danish Epidemiology Science Centre, Statens Serum Institut, Copenhagen, USA. nls@ssi.dk



Supplementary feeding programs (SFPs) are intended to mitigate the deterioration of nutritional status and the increase in mortality among malnourished children.


We investigated the effect of an SFP on malnourished children in Guinea-Bissau who were returning to their homes after having been displaced within the country because of war in 1998-1999.


The effect of the war on the nutritional status of children aged 6-59 mo who were present in Bissau sometime from September 1998 to June 1999 was evaluated by comparing the mortality and the prevalence of malnutrition with the values expected had the war not occurred and by comparing the severity of malnutrition in malnourished children before and during the war. The quality of the SFP was also evaluated. Children with midupper arm circumference < 130 mm were provided weekly medical consultations and supplementary feeding until recovery.


The degree of malnutrition did not increase during the war. The prevalence of malnutrition increased with the start of the war but then decreased. The mortality of malnourished children did not increase during the war. Seventy-four percent of the referred children received treatment; of those, 1% died, 67% recovered, and 32% abandoned treatment. Compliance was 89%. The recovery rate was 13.1. 1000(-1). d(-1), and the median time to recovery was 48 d. Better compliance was associated with shorter time to recovery.


Our findings may be biased by changes in the cultural and socioeconomic background of the malnourished children. However, 3 different analyses indicated a beneficial effect of the SFP. Thus, the home-based SFP probably prevented nutritional deterioration during the war in Guinea-Bissau.

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