Antithrombin activities in 30 severely malnourished children and 40 normal children were estimated in clotting tests by thrombin neutralisation as anti-Xa and by a heparin antithrombin assay; and by immunodiffusion as alpha 2-globulin and alpha 1-antitrypsin. The patients' mean alpha 2-globulin was severely depressed, and there were less marked depletions in mean values for thrombin neutralisation, anti-Xa, and in the heparin antithrombin assay (which showed the flat curve thought to reflect a thrombotic tendency). The alpha 1-antitrypsin values were normal. The findings support the concept of antithrombin as the summation of alpha 2-globulin and alpha 1-antitrypsin (with alpha 2-macroglobulin); and the low values may be related to the high incidence of thrombosis reported in childhood malnutrition, although it was not seen in these patients.
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