A recent study, carried out by scientists from several Canadian and American research centers, points to a new risk factor for COVID-19. And, according to their conclusions, coronavirus patients with malnutrition are more likely to develop severe symptoms.
The investigation has been carried out both with children and adults, 18 years and older. All the patients who participated in it were American, although this could be extrapolated to other countries. Therefore, in certain countries where they have to deal with this pandemic, along with other endemic diseases in the area, all with fair economic resources, the malnutrition It may be the last straw.
And the worst thing is that, both in these countries and in the rest of the world, the pandemic itself is increasing the cases of malnutrition. Many people have lost their jobs, leaving their families without economic support. As a consequence, the situation feeds back, so now that we know the relationship, special attention should be paid to these people.
A pandemic on many levels
This pandemic that we have lived through is affecting the world population on many levels. For one thing, the virus is the most obvious. Some people go through the disease hardly knowing it. On the other hand, others die, spend long periods in the hospital or are left with sequelae that significantly reduce their quality of life.
But that is not all. This situation is also postponing operations and diagnostics by the saturation of the health system, is putting thousands of people out of work and has deteriorated the mental health of many others. And it also causes malnutrition. Those who already had trouble putting something in their mouth each day have even more, while others are beginning to experience the economic decline that leads to malnutrition.
For this reason, these scientists, whose results are published today in Scientific Reports, decided to analyze whether the pandemic, in addition to promoting malnutrition, can hit those who already suffered more strongly. For this they went to a database from which they were able to extract information about coronavirus patients with and without malnutrition. They separated them by age and performed a statistical analysis that found an important relationship.
From this database they extracted information from 8,604 children and 94,495 adults who had been hospitalized for COVID-19 in the United States, between March and June 2020. Next, it was compared which of them had received a diagnosis of malnutrition between 2015 and 2019.
They observed that of the 520 children who had suffered from severe coronavirus, 39 had previously been diagnosed with malnutrition. This supposes a 7.5%.
In contrast, of the 7,959 who had had it mild, there were only 125 who were considered coronavirus patients with malnutrition. Namely, 1.5%.
As for adults, of 11,423 with severe COVID-19, 453 (4%) had malnutrition. And of the 81,515 who suffered the disease with mild symptoms, 1.8%, corresponding to 1,557 people, were malnourished.
This was noticeable in children over the age of 5 and adults aged under 5. between 18 and 78 years old. In contrast, the youngest children and the elderly turned the tables and it was the non-malnourished who were most likely to become seriously ill. In any case, the authors themselves acknowledge in the study that, in the case of children, it could be because the diagnoses of malnutrition were made between 2015 and 2019, so there would be less data and the results would be distorted.
For the elderly, the truth is that they are the group most at risk, as we have already seen during the pandemic, so the fact of being malnourished does not trigger severe cases, which are already higher. They also establish that the causes of this relationship are unclear. However, it is widely known that malnutrition can affect numerous parameters related to health. immune system.
In short, it is to coronavirus patients with malnutrition from 5 to 78 years those who need to be more closely monitored. Of course, the keys are to try to solve the origin of this malnutrition. It is not always inexpensive, of course. We must not forget, for example, people with Eating disorder. Whatever the origin, the first step is to put all the measures available to improve its conditions. But in the meantime, if they do contract the virus, it must be remembered that they are high-risk patients.