An analysis was made of the 4-hourly temperature records of 137 malnourished Jamaican children, the consecutive admissions to a metabolic ward during a 3-year period. Mean rectal temperature of afebrile children during the first week in hospital was 0·52 °C lower than it was in the week before discharge. Hypothermia (rectal temperature [unk]35 °C) occurred in 19·7% of the children. It was related to low weight and height but not to serum or whole body potassium, serum sodium, or seasonal variation in ambient temperature. The incidence of hypothermia in the survivors of this group of children was the same as it was in 42 children who died from severe malnutrition in the ward during the period 1960 to 1970. It is concluded that hypothermia is not an unfavourable prognostic sign in malnourished Jamaican children. Hypothermia was commoner in marasmus than it was in kwashiorkor. In 11 afebrile children with kwashiorkor, rapid loss of oedema was associated with a fall in mean rectal temperature, suggesting that the insulating properties of oedema fluid may protect against hypothermia in kwashiorkor.
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