What can participants expect?
Ill children admitted to hospital who qualify for the study will be identified upon admission and caregivers will be informed of the study and objectives. After initial screening, the child’s caregivers will be invited to participate and asked to provide consent. Both questionnaires and clinical assessments will be used to evaluate the child’s health status and family characteristics at admission, through-out the child’s hospital stay, at discharge and until 6 months after returning to their homes.
In addition to routine tests carried out for care, small amounts of blood and faeces (stool) will be collected for research. These samples will be used to test the function of the child’s body (e.g., to evaluate circulating levels of nutrients, intestine function or markers of infection and inflammation). With samples collected at specific time-points such as at hospital admission and discharge, the effects of treatment and recovery can be studied. Children with poor outcomes can thus be compared to those that recover and the contribution of undernourishment can be evaluated. This will help to identify and treat children that are at risk for poor outcomes. Household visits conducted at hospital discharge will provide social and environmental information.
At 45, 90 and 180 days after discharge, children will be followed-up. These assessments will include health questionnaires and anthropometric measurements to evaluate a child’s growth and recovery. This will help establish why some children either do not recover, become sick again or fail to grow well.
Children who are not sick will also be enrolled from the community. For these, a household visit will be done to invite them to participate as well as obtain social and health information, measure the child’s height and weight. Once invited, the caregivers will be required to bring the children to the hospital facility linked to the CHAIN study where questionnaires will be completed and blood and stool samples collected. This will help establish normal baseline levels for all measurements within communities where the ill children are from. This will also give us an indication of how well a previously ill child can be expected to recover.