Development of impaired cell-mediated immunity in mild and moderate malnutrition
The development of moderate malnutrition and cell-mediated immune function was studied in 71 Colombian infants from birth through 2 yr of age. Based upon weight-for-age criteria 31 remained normal, 33 were classified as grade I, and seven were grade II malnourished at the end of their 2nd yr of life. Delayed hypersensitivity reactions to purified protein derivative were significantly reduced in all malnourished children 8 wk after Bacille Calmette-Guerin vaccination at birth, and also at 2 yr in the Grade II group. Nearly half of the latter group could not be sensitized to dinitrochlorobenzene at 2 yr of age. A 50% reduction in the blastogenic response of peripheral blood lymphocytes to phytohemagglutinin in vitro was detected in grade II children. Both mildly and moderately malnourished infants exhibited a significant reduction in tonsil size at 2 yr of age. These results indicate that a majority of newborns in this poor, urban setting will develop measurable malnutrition associated with impaired cell-mediated immune function before their 2nd birthday.