Nutritional support in critically ill children

Clin Nutr. 2003 Aug;22(4):365-9. doi: 10.1016/s0261-5614(03)00033-5.


Background & aims: Enteral nutrition is the feeding method of choice during critical illness, but in some cases as few as 25% are fed appropriately. The aim was to retrospectively review the administration of nutrition to critically ill children.

Methods: The notes of 95 children over the age of 1 year who were in PICU>or=3 days were reviewed and information related to the delivery of nutrition was obtained.

Results: Fifty-nine per cent were fed within 24h of admission. Enteral nutrition was administered 54% of the time, 10% required parenteral nutrition and 9.5% received no nutritional support. Children only received a median 58.8 (range 0-277)% of their energy requirements, which could not be optimised until the 10th intensive care day. Energy intake was greater when supplemented with parenteral nutrition. Parenteral nutrition administration was interrupted 3 times while enteral nutrition was stopped 264 times, mainly to allow other clinical procedures to take place. For 75% of the study time, children had abnormal bowel patterns. Seventy-nine per cent were constipated for 3-21 days and 43% had diarrhoea of unknown aetiology.

Conclusion: This was a retrospective study to describe the efficiency of nutritional support in critically ill children. We have shown that it is possible to administer enteral nutrition safely. However, the difference between desirable intake and actual intake achieved suggests that a more pro-active approach should be adopted.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Constipation / epidemiology
  • Constipation / etiology
  • Critical Care / methods*
  • Critical Illness / therapy*
  • Diarrhea / epidemiology
  • Diarrhea / etiology
  • Energy Intake*
  • Enteral Nutrition / adverse effects
  • Enteral Nutrition / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Intensive Care Units, Pediatric
  • Male
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Parenteral Nutrition / adverse effects
  • Parenteral Nutrition / methods*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome