Post-Discharge Risk of Mortality in Children under 5 Years of Age in Western Kenya: A Retrospective Cohort Study

Titus K Kwambai, Simon Kariuki, Menno R Smit, Sarah Nevitt, Eric Onyango, Martina Oneko, Sammy Khagayi, Aaron M Samuels, Mary J Hamel, Kayla Laserson, Meghna Desai, Feiko O Ter Kuile

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Limited evidence suggests that children in sub-Saharan Africa hospitalized with all-cause severe anemia or severe acute malnutrition (SAM) are at high risk of dying in the first few months after discharge. We aimed to compare the risks of post-discharge mortality by health condition among hospitalized children in an area with high malaria transmission in western Kenya. We conducted a retrospective cohort study among recently discharged children aged < 5 years using mortality data from a health and demographic surveillance system that included household and pediatric in-hospital surveillance. Cox regression was used to compare post-discharge mortality. Between 2008 and 2013, overall in-hospital mortality was 2.8% (101/3,639). The mortality by 6 months after discharge (primary outcome) was 6.2% (159/2,556) and was highest in children with SAM (21.6%), followed by severe anemia (15.5%), severe pneumonia (5.6%), "other conditions" (5.6%), and severe malaria (0.7%). Overall, the 6-month post-discharge mortality in children hospitalized with SAM (hazard ratio [HR] = 3.95, 2.60-6.00, P < 0.001) or severe anemia (HR = 2.55, 1.74-3.71, P < 0.001) was significantly higher than that in children without these conditions. Severe malaria was associated with lower 6-month post-discharge mortality than children without severe malaria (HR = 0.33, 0.21-0.53, P < 0.001). The odds of dying by 6 months after discharge tended to be higher than during the in-hospital period for all children, except for those admitted with severe malaria. The first 6 months after discharge is a high-risk period for mortality among children admitted with severe anemia and SAM in western Kenya. Strategies to address this risk period are urgently needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)704-712
Number of pages9
JournalThe American journal of tropical medicine and hygiene
Issue number3
Early online date7 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - 6 Sept 2023


  • Humans
  • Child
  • Infant
  • Child, Preschool
  • Patient Discharge
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Kenya/epidemiology
  • Aftercare
  • Malaria/complications
  • Anemia/complications

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