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Pediatría (Asunción)

On-line version ISSN 1683-9803


HODGSON, María Isabel et al. Prevalence of malnutrition in children at hospital admission in 9 Latin American countries and analysis of associated factors. Pediatr. (Asunción) [online]. 2021, vol.48, n.3, pp.176-186. ISSN 1683-9803.


Malnutrition continues to be a frequent cause of increased morbidity and mortality, especially in hospitalized patients.


To evaluate the observed infant malnutrition rate at hospital admission in nine Latin American countries and to estimate the impact of various conditions that may affect their development.

Materials and Methods:

This was a descriptive, cross-sectional study of children of both sexes, from 0 to 18 years of age, hospitalized in nine Latin American countries (Argentina, Chile, Cuba, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela). The information was obtained through a survey and anthropometry carried out during the first 48 hours after admission. For the nutritional evaluation, the weight and height of the children were evaluated according to the standards of the World Health Organization (WHO). Statistical analysis was performed using SPSS version 24.


Of the total of 5,366 patients, 45.2% were female and 46.5% were under 2 years of age. 50.2% were eutrophic, 15.4% had a risk of malnutrition or mild malnutrition, 12.5% malnutrition, 14.2% overweight or at risk of obesity, and 7.7% were obese. 20.5% were short. Children with 4 or more previous hospitalizations had a higher risk of presenting deficiency malnutrition (OR = 1.7). Patients with cardiological pathologies presented an OR = 1.8 of presenting deficiency malnutrition.


The prevalence of malnutrition in children at hospital admission is moderate and is especially related to cardiac pathology and a history of several previous hospitalizations.

Keywords : Malnutrition; hospitalized children; Latin America.

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