Background and aims Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) is the most common malignancy among children. Malnutrition remains a major concern for paediatric oncologists. Although studies have shown that malnutrition can negatively affect treatment outcome, results are still controversial. This retrospective cohort study aims at determining the prevalence of malnutrition and its association with treatment outcome and infection among children with ALL treated at the Children Cancer Centre in Lebanon (CCCL).
Methods 108 children and adolescents diagnosed with ALL between April 2002 and May 2010 were enrolled in the study. Anthropometric data were collected from patient’s medical record upon diagnosis, at 3 and 6 months, and at the end of treatment. Body mass index (BMI) was calculated for children ≥ 2 years while weight for height ratio was used for patients < 2 years. Patients were considered underweight, stunted, or wasted if their z-scores were <-2SD.
Results The prevalence of malnourished children was 27% at diagnosis and remained almost the same at the end of treatment. The odds ratio of having worse outcome in terms of relapse or death was higher among malnourished children with OR = 2.09, 95% CI = 0.3–13.4 and OR = 1.25 and 95% CI = 0.2–6.9 for death and relapse respectively. However this trend was not statistically significant. Concomitantly, a slight increase in the odds of having positive bacterial bloodor urinary culture was observed among malnourished children without statistical significance (OR = 1.35, 95% CI = 0.4–3.7).
Conclusion Although there was a trend showing worse outcomes in malnourished children with ALL larger studies need to be conducted to prove the association.