Treatment of hypothermia in severely malnourished children
Severely malnourished children are particularly vulnerable to hypothermia, where the body’s core temperature drops below the required temperature for normal functions. When a severely malnourished child is hypothermic, WHO recommends warming the child by:
- placing the child on the mother’s bare chest or abdomen, then covering both individuals (the “kangaroo technique”);
- clothing the child (including the head), covering with a warmed blanket, and placing the child under an incandescent lamp, making sure that the lamp does not touch the child’s body.
During re-warming, temperature monitoring is important to avoid hyperthermia. Hypothermic children should also be treated for hypoglycaemia by frequent feeding, and given broad spectrum antimicrobials to treat serious systemic infections.
Hospital-based management of severe malnutrition
Status: guidelines under review
Pocket book of hospital care for children: guidelines for the management of common illnesses with limited resources
Management of the child with a serious infection or severe malnutrition: guidelines for care at the first-referral level in developing countries [pdf 3.1Mb]
Management of severe malnutrition: a manual for physicians and other senior health workers [pdf 1.4Mb]