What is a wasted child?

Wasting is a danger sign and suggests malnutrition or illness. These children usually look very thin and have a weight that falls below the 3rd centile while their height and head circumference often fall within the normal range. These children also have a body mass index below the 3rd centile, i.e. they are underweight for their height. Special weight for height charts are available. Their growth curve may show weight faltering.

Mid-arm circumference and triceps skin-fold thickness can also be measured and plotted on centiles to identify thin children and fat children. Special arm tapes are used to detect wasted children. Abdominal circumference is another measure that can be used to detect fatness in children.

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