MUAC measure and definition

Francesco ZizolaAn MSF staff member is testing this small child in Angola for malnutrition using a MUAC measure. When the MUAC falls in the 'red' zone, as is this child, they are suffering from severe malnutrition and is in threat of death.

The MUAC measure is a long strip with a series of colour bands. When measured properly against a bare upper arm, the gauge provides a number and indicates the colour range.

Green: >135mm (normal)
Yellow: 125-134mm (risk of malnutrition)
Orange: 110-124mm (moderate malnutrition)
Red: <110mm (severe malnutrition and threat of death)

From the MSF Refugee Handbook

Screening for malnutrition

"It is essential to detect children with nutritional problems early on as malnutrition is a major cause of mortality among children. For screening purposes, it is recommended to use the mid-upper arm circumference measure (MUAC), which is a quick way of identifying children at risk. Referral to feeding programmes must be organised in line with MUAC cut-off points and the criteria selected. The time and resources devoted to malnutrition will depend on the degree to which malnutrition is a cause of mortality."