Nutritional status at diagnosis of cancer in children and adolescents in Guatemala and its relationship to socioeconomic disadvantage: A retrospective cohort study
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BACKGROUND: At least 80% of children with cancer live in low- and middle-income countries where the prevalence of malnutrition and socioeconomic disadvantage is high. We examined the relationship between nutritional status (NS), assessed by arm anthropometry, and socioeconomic status (SES) in children diagnosed with cancer at Unidad Nacional de Oncologia Pediatrica (UNOP) in Guatemala over a three-year period. METHOD: Patients aged 0 to 18 years of age diagnosed between January 2015 and December 2017 were included. NS was evaluated by mid-upper arm circumference, triceps skin fold thickness, and serum albumin level, and subjects were classified as adequately nourished, moderately depleted, and severely depleted nutritionally. SES was measured by a 15-item instrument developed at UNOP. RESULTS: Of 1365 patients diagnosed in the study period, 1060 (78%) fulfilled the eligibility criteria. Only 6% of patients were classified as medium to high, the remainder as medium-low to extremely low SES. Almost 47% were severely depleted at diagnosis, 19% moderately depleted, and 34% adequately nourished. SES was shown to be a determinant of NS; with progressively lower SES, the probability of a decline in NS increased by a factor of 1.04 points (P < 0.0001). Leukemia and lymphoma were also important predictors of nutritional depletion with odds ratios of 6.08 (95% CI, 1.74-28.28; P = 0.008) for leukemias and 4.83 (95% CI, 1.33-23.03; P = 0.03) for lymphomas. CONCLUSION: Both low SES and a diagnosis of leukemia or lymphoma are strong predictors of poor NS at diagnosis in children with cancer in Guatemala.
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