e-Library of Evidence for Nutrition Actions (eLENA)

Treatment of hypothermia in severely malnourished children

Severely malnourished children are particularly vulnerable to hypothermia, where the body’s core temperature drops below the required temperature for normal functions. When a severely malnourished child is hypothermic, WHO recommends warming the child by:

  • placing the child on the mother’s bare chest or abdomen, then covering both individuals (the “kangaroo technique”);
  • clothing the child (including the head), covering with a warmed blanket, and placing the child under an incandescent lamp, making sure that the lamp does not touch the child’s body.

During re-warming, temperature monitoring is important to avoid hyperthermia. Hypothermic children should also be treated for hypoglycaemia by frequent feeding, and given broad spectrum antimicrobials to treat serious systemic infections.

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Last update:

25 March 2014 13:29 CET

Category 3 intervention

Available evidence is limited and there are no recent guidelines yet available that have been approved by the WHO Guidelines Review Committee

Biological, behavioural and contextual rationale