e-Library of Evidence for Nutrition Actions (eLENA)

Micronutrient intake in children with severe acute malnutrition

In children who are 6–59 months of age, severe acute malnutrition is defined by a very low weight-for-height/weight-for-length, or clinical signs of bilateral pitting oedema, or a very low mid-upper arm circumference. Severe acute malnutrition affects an estimated 19 million children under 5 years of age worldwide and is estimated to account for approximately 400,000 child deaths each year.

Children with severe acute malnutrition often have micronutrient deficiencies which need to be corrected for a complete nutritional recovery.

WHO recommendations

All severely malnourished children should receive adequate vitamins and minerals. For this reason, commercially available therapeutic milks, ready-to-use therapeutic foods, and rehydration solutions for malnourished children contain a mix of minerals and vitamins. Ready-made vitamin and mineral mixes can also be used in the preparation of local therapeutic foods and rehydration solutions.


This is a summary of one of several WHO recommendations on the management of SAM in infants and children. The full set of recommendations can be found in 'Full set of recommendations' and in the guidelines and guidance documents under ‘WHO documents’ below.

WHO documents

WHO documents

GRC-approved guidelines
Other guidance documents


Related systematic reviews
Clinical trials

Last update:

10 January 2017 11:29 CET

Category 1 intervention

Guidelines have been recently approved by the WHO Guidelines Review Committee

Essential Nutrition Actions

This intervention is a component of managing children with SAM, which is an Essential Nutrition Action targeting the first 1000 days of life.

Global targets

Implementation of this intervention may contribute to the achievement of the following targets:

Global nutrition targets

Target 6: Reduce and maintain childhood wasting to less than 5%