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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 52  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 210-215

Nutritional status at presentation, comparison of assessment tools, and importance of arm anthropometry in children with cancer in India

1 Department of Pediatrics, SAACHI Children Hospital, Surat, Gujarat, India
2 Cuddles Foundation, Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
3 Department of Pediatric Oncology, Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
4 Sun Pharma Laboratories Ltd., Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
5 Department of Medical Gastroenterology, Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Correspondence Address:
B Arora
Department of Pediatric Oncology, Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0019-509X.175838

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Background: In India, approximately 40,000 new cases of cancer in children are diagnosed each year. However, there are no good studies analyzing their nutritional status. Also, since accurate and sensitive nutritional assessment is critical for optimal clinical outcomes through timely remediation of malnutrition, it is important to assess the relative sensitivity and feasibility of commonly used nutritional screening tools. Methods: This observational study analyzed height/length (cm), weight (kg), mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC), triceps skinfold thickness (TSFT) as well as their Z-scores or percentiles, albumin levels and history of weight loss at diagnosis in children aged 2–15 years being treated for cancer between November 2008 to December 2013. Body mass index (BMI) and arm muscle circumference (AMC) were calculated respectively from height and weight, and MUAC and TSFT. Results: A total of 1693 new patients were enrolled; 1187 had all anthropometric measurements performed. The prevalence of malnutrition was 38%, 57%, 76%, 69% and 81% on the basis of BMI, TSFT, MUAC, AMC, and arm TSFT + MUAC respectively with the highest prevalence in solid abdominal tumours. Addition of BMI and serum albumin to arm anthropometry increased the proportion classified as severely nutritionally depleted by a mere 2% & 1.5% respectively. Positive history of significant weight loss additionally identified 16.5% at nutritional risk over arm anthropometry. Conclusions: The prevalence of malnutrition in Indian children with cancer at presentation is very high ranging from 40% and 80% depending on the method used for assessment, being higher with MUAC and lowest with BMI. Either MUAC alone or TSFT + MUAC (wherever feasible) should be used for screening for malnutrition in children with cancer at diagnosis to plan timely nutritional interventions, reduce the treatment-related morbidity and optimise their chance of long-term cure.


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