Post-Discharge Risk of Mortality in Children under 5 Years of Age in Western Kenya: A Retrospective Cohort Study

Titus K. Kwambai, Simon Kariuki, Menno R. Smit, Sarah Nevitt, Eric Onyango, Martina Oneko, Sammy Khagayi, Aaron M. Samuels, Mary J. Hamel, Kayla Laserson, Meghna Desai, Feiko O. Ter Kuile

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Limited evidence suggests that children in sub-Saharan Africa hospitalized with all-cause severe anemia or severe acute malnutrition (SAM) are at high risk of dying in the first few months after discharge. We aimed to compare the risks of post-discharge mortality by health condition among hospitalized children in an area with high malaria transmission in western Kenya. We conducted a retrospective cohort study among recently discharged children aged < 5 years using mortality data from a health and demographic surveillance system that included household and pediatric in-hospital surveillance. Cox regression was used to compare post-discharge mortality. Between 2008 and 2013, overall in-hospital mortality was 2.8% (101/3,639). The mortality by 6 months after discharge (primary outcome) was 6.2% (159/2,556) and was highest in children with SAM (21.6%), followed by severe anemia (15.5%), severe pneumonia (5.6%), "other conditions" (5.6%), and severe malaria (0.7%). Overall, the 6-month post-discharge mortality in children hospitalized with SAM (hazard ratio [HR] = 3.95, 2.60-6.00, P < 0.001) or severe anemia (HR = 2.55, 1.74-3.71, P < 0.001) was significantly higher than that in children without these conditions. Severe malaria was associated with lower 6-month post-discharge mortality than children without severe malaria (HR = 0.33, 0.21-0.53, P < 0.001). The odds of dying by 6 months after discharge tended to be higher than during the in-hospital period for all children, except for those admitted with severe malaria. The first 6 months after discharge is a high-risk period for mortality among children admitted with severe anemia and SAM in western Kenya. Strategies to address this risk period are urgently needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)704-712
Number of pages9
JournalThe American journal of tropical medicine and hygiene
Issue number3
Early online date7 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - 6 Sept 2023

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