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BackgroundSevere metabolic acidosis and acute kidney injury are major causes of mortality in children with severe malaria but are often underdiagnosed in low resource settings.MethodsA retrospective analysis of the 'Artesunate versus quinine in the treatment of severe falciparum malaria in African children' (AQUAMAT) trial was conducted to identify clinical features of severe metabolic acidosis and uraemia in 5425 children from nine African countries. Separate models were fitted for uraemia and severe metabolic acidosis. Separate univariable and multivariable logistic regression were performed to identify prognostic factors for severe metabolic acidosis and uraemia. Both analyses adjusted for the trial arm. A forward selection approach was used for model building of the logistic models and a threshold of 5% statistical significance was used for inclusion of variables into the final logistic model. Model performance was assessed through calibration, discrimination, and internal validation with bootstrapping.ResultsThere were 2296 children identified with severe metabolic acidosis and 1110 with uraemia. Prognostic features of severe metabolic acidosis among them were deep breathing (OR: 3.94, CI 2.51-6.2), hypoglycaemia (OR: 5.16, CI 2.74-9.75), coma (OR: 1.72 CI 1.17-2.51), respiratory distress (OR: 1.46, CI 1.02-2.1) and prostration (OR: 1.88 CI 1.35-2.59). Features associated with uraemia were coma (3.18, CI 2.36-4.27), Prostration (OR: 1.78 CI 1.37-2.30), decompensated shock (OR: 1.89, CI 1.31-2.74), black water fever (CI 1.58. CI 1.09-2.27), jaundice (OR: 3.46 CI 2.21-5.43), severe anaemia (OR: 1.77, CI 1.36-2.29) and hypoglycaemia (OR: 2.77, CI 2.22-3.46) CONCLUSION: Clinical and laboratory parameters representing contributors and consequences of severe metabolic acidosis and uraemia were independently associated with these outcomes. The model can be useful for identifying patients at high risk of these complications where laboratory assessments are not routinely available.

Original publication





Malaria journal

Publication Date





Malawi Liverpool Wellcome Trust, Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital College of Medicine, Chichiri 3, P.O. Box 30096, Blantyre, Malawi.


Humans, Malaria, Falciparum, Uremia, Acidosis, Prognosis, Retrospective Studies, Child, Child, Preschool, Infant, Africa South of the Sahara, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Mozambique, Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria, Female, Male