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Eur J Clin Nutr. 1988 Apr; 42(4): 363-6.

Malnutrition among tuberculosis patients in Harrow, England.

Onwubalili JK.

Division of Communicable Diseases, MRC Clinical Research Centre, Harrow, Middlesex, UK.

Nutritional assessment was performed on 30 patients, aged 19-61 years, admitted to the Lister Unit of Northwick Park Hospital, Harrow, with active tuberculosis. Nutritional measurements were related to the duration and extent of disease, and also compared with those obtained in healthy age-, sex- and ethnic-matched controls before and during treatment of patients. Tuberculosis patients had significant reductions in body mass index (weight/height2) (P = 0.001), triceps skinfold thickness (P = 0.01), arm muscle circumference (P = 0.002), serum albumin (P less than 0.0001), iron (P less than 0.0001) and total iron binding capacity (P less than 0.001). Chemotherapy was associated with progressive nutritional recovery and restoration of nutrition-related indices. However, mean arm muscle circumference and serum albumin levels of the patients remained subnormal at 12 months, suggesting that body protein reserves may not be fully repleted during treatment. Active tuberculosis is associated with profound protein-energy undernutrition which improves during treatment. Further study is required to determine whether dietary protein supplementation may accelerate recovery from tuberculosis.

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