"The peanut-butter feeding has been a quantum leap in feeding malnourished children in Africa," Manary said. "The recovery rates are a remarkable improvement from standard therapy."
Traditional treatment of moderate malnutrition in Malawi involves feeding children a corn-based porridge at home, or for severe malnutrition, children are fed a milk-based porridge in hospitals. However, a severely malnourished child would have to eat about 25 spoonfuls of porridge to equal the calorie density in one spoonful of the concentrated RUTF, Manary said. The recovery rate for children given the standard therapy is less than 50 percent.
As a result of the study, Manary and the researchers found that village health aides can reliably identify which children need treatment, manage the program and follow up with children after the program, which eliminates the need for onsite medically trained professionals to supervise it.
"What's really exciting to me is that we've demonstrated that we can put this research into practice on a large scale, it can benefit tens of thousands of kids, and there are not going to be operational barriers in some very remote settings like sub-Saharan Africa," Manary said.
First author Zachary Linneman is a freshman at Washington University in St. Louis who has traveled to Malawi twice to work with Manary.
"In addition to the success the project brings to each malnourished child in terms of nutritional rehabilitation, I think it demonstrates to the larger community the ability to effectively address major health issues with straightforward solutions and hard work," Linneman said.
Once the children are renourished, they usually stay healthy, Manary said.
"Mothers in Malawi know that malnutrition is the single biggest threat to their children's existence," Manary said.
"They want nothing more in th
|Contact: Beth Miller|
Washington University in St. Louis