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Age-Independent Anthropometric Criteria in the Assessment of PEM

Am J Dis Child. 1988;142(12):1268-1270. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1988.02150120022019.
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Sir.—Protein-energy malnutrition (PEM) in preschool children is a major public health problem in developing countries. The severe forms of PEM are clinically discernible, but the mild and moderate forms require anthropometry for their detection. Several anthropometric criteria have been used for the grading of nutritional status of the community, but there is controversy as to their effectiveness. Few studies have compared the effectiveness of these methods.1-3 In the present study, we compare the various anthropometric methods for their efficiency in determining PEM by assessing their sensitivity and specificity indexes as well as their predictive values, taking weight-for-height as the reference method.1

Subjects and Methods.—Five hundred four preschool children residing in three slums of Davangere, India, were studied. Their ages were determined by use of a pretested "local calendar."4 Their height, weight, midarm circumference, and head circumference were recorded by standard methods.4 Table 1 shows the different anthropometric criteria used in


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