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J Trop Pediatr. 1998 Jun;44(3):142-7.

Nutritional factors associated with rheumatic fever.

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Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Japan.


The determinants for a child with group A beta-haemolytic streptococcal throat infection (BHS infection) to develop rheumatic fever (RF) remain unclear. In this case-control study, we deal with BHS infected children to examine whether nutritional factors are related to RF. In a RF hospital in Dhaka (Bangladesh) we examined 218 consecutive out-patients who had antecedent BHS infection. Sixty of them met the updated Jones criteria for RF (cases) while 104 did not (controls). Fifty-four possible RF patients were excluded. We used anthropometric measurements and a food frequency questionnaire to assess nutritional factors. Higher risk of RF was observed for low height for age (odds ratio 3.82, 95% confidence interval 1.73-8.42); low weight for age (2.41, 1.12-5.57); low upper arm circumference for age (3.76, 1.87-7.89); and low consumption of eggs (3.81, 1.95-7.63), milk (2.60, 1.36-5.08), chicken (2.62, 1.35-5.21), pulses (1.98, 1.03-3.84), fruits 2.29, 1.20-4.45), and ruti (home-made bread) (3.15, 1.61-6.34). Reduced risk was observed for soybean oil consumption (0.28, 0.12-0.62). The significant association of upper arm circumference and eggs persisted after adjustment for multiple sociodemographic confounders. The association of ruti and soybean oil appeared to be suggestive (0.05 < p < 0.1). Protein-energy malnutrition is likely to be associated with RF. The protective effect of moderate consumption of eggs and soybean oil may support other published work which suggests that the anti-inflammatory substance present in these food items may prevent maturation of the rheumatic process.

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