Nutrition and Infection

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  • Carnegie Corporation of New York, New York, New York

The papers presented at this session again emphasize the interactions between the nutritional status of the host and the occurrence and severity of infectious diseases. For many infections, malnourished subjects are more likely to develop severe clinical manifestations, are at greater risk of complications, and take much longer to recover than well-nourished persons. However, there are exceptions to the general rule that undernourished subjects are more susceptible to infections; malnourished subjects are more resistant to some viral and protozoan infections or they show less severe manifestations of disease.

The effects of acute and chronic infections on the nutritional status of the host are also well-known. For example, an attack of measles is often the precipitating cause of acute manifestations of severe protein-calorie malnutrition in children who are marginally undernourished.