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01.12.2018 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

BMC Pediatrics 1/2018

Management of severe acute malnutrition by cow milk in resource constraints settings: experience of the Nutritional Centre of the University Clinics of Graben

BMC Pediatrics > Ausgabe 1/2018
Mupenzi Mumbere, F. Katsuva Mbahweka, B. P. Furaha Nzanzu



Severe acute malnutrition is defined as a weight for height z-score < − 3 standard deviation. Since 2000, joint efforts of the World Health Organization and United Nations Children’s Fund allowed to standardize the management of acute malnutrition by improving outcome and preventing complications with the introduction of therapeutic milk and ready-to-use therapeutic foods. However, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, many health facilities face therapeutic milk shortage while managing severe acute malnutrition. At the University Clinics of Graben, cow milk with porridge made of maize, soybean, vegetal oil and sugar is used during stockouts periods. This study was carried out to analyse the efficiency and safety of this treatment compared to the conventional one in SAM patients.


This study is based on the experience of the University Clinics of Graben in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo whose nutritional centre is often confronted with stockouts in nutritional supplements. During a three months shortage in 2015, patients received cow milk alternating with preparations made from sugar-maize-soybean- vegetal oil. The study compared the evolution of these children with those who had previously been treated with the WHO conventional preparations by analysing weight changes, oedema resolution, gastrointestinal tolerability and clinical outcome over 21 days. Data were analysed with SPSS 20. We used the ANOVA, Chi-square test, odd ratio and p-value to compare the differences.


Seventy-nine patients had received cow milk while fifty-seven were submitted to classical therapeutic milk. There was no significant difference between the two groups regardless the type of malnutrition in terms of weight changes, oedema resolution, gastrointestinal tolerability and clinical outcome over 21 days.


Cow milk alternately with sugar-maize-soybean- vegetal oil preparations is an acceptable alternative in case of stockouts in conventional therapeutic milk in these settings.
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