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September 1986

Classification of Protein-Energy Malnutrition in Industrialized Countries

Am J Dis Child. 1986;140(9):852. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1986.02140230022009

Sir.—In our institution as in The Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago, the use of the term nonorganic failure to thrive obscures the fact that treatable protein-energy malnutrition is a common disorder. We support Listernick and his colleagues1 in their contention that this term should be discarded.

All children who receive even the most rudimentary health care should be properly measured using a length board or stadiometer and a calibrated beam balance. Measures of weight and height (length) alone can be the basis for rational decisions about nutritional rehabilitation. Plotting the child's growth on the National Center for Health Statistics standard curves, particularly the weight-for-height curve, allows one to determine whether the child is normal, wasted, stunted, or wasted and stunted, according to the criteria of Waterlow.2 Wasted children are amenable to successful nutritional intervention, whereas stunted children are not and likely have failure of statural growth secondary

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