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Hypothermia is stated as a common complication of severe malnutrition although there are little primary data to support this. We performed a prospective study of children with severe acute malnutrition (SAM) admitted to a district hospital in Kenya. We documented the prevalence of hypothermia and examined its association with outcome and ambient temperature. During a 2-year period 667 children were recruited. Hypothermia was recorded in only 12 out of 15 191 (0.08%) temperature observations and as a single event in 12 children (2% of cases). There was no correlation with ambient temperature. Although mortality rates were higher in children with hypothermia (4/12, 33%) than those without (121/655, 18%), the timing of hypothermia did not coincide with clinical deterioration. Hypothermia was a rare marker of severity in our setting. We recommend that other observations be highlighted to identify high risk groups and that routine temperature observations be reduced wherever staff are few.

Original publication




Journal article


J Trop Pediatr

Publication Date





413 - 416


Body Temperature, Child, Child Nutrition Disorders, Child, Preschool, Female, Humans, Hypothermia, Infant, Kenya, Male, Malnutrition, Prevalence, Prospective Studies