Hospital-acquired malnutrition in children with mild clinical conditions

Nutrition. 2009 May;25(5):540-7. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2008.11.026. Epub 2009 Feb 20.


Objective: Little is known about the incidence and risk factors of hospital-acquired malnutrition in children with mild illness (grade 1 clinical conditions) and its timing of occurrence. The aim of this study was to recognize any early stage of denutrition and possible risk factors leading to nutritional deterioration in children hospitalized due to mild clinical conditions.

Methods: Four hundred ninety-six children (age 1-192 mo) with mild clinical conditions were studied. Weight and height were measured. Weight was assessed daily and body mass index (BMI) Z-score was calculated for all patients.

Results: Children with a BMI Z-score <-2 SD on admission showed a mean BMI decrease at the end of their hospital stay, which was significantly higher than in children who showed a better nutritional condition at admission. Risk factors for hospital-acquired malnutrition were an age <24 mo, a duration of hospital stay >5 d, fever, and night-time abdominal pain.

Conclusion: Hospital stay has an impact on the nutritional status of children affected by mild clinical conditions. Children already malnourished on admission were found to be at risk for further nutritional deterioration during their hospital stay; and in all groups of children identified by their BMI Z-score at admission, nutritional status declined progressively.

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Pain / epidemiology
  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Nutritional Physiological Phenomena / physiology
  • Age Factors
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Child
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena / physiology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Hospitalization*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Malnutrition / epidemiology*
  • Malnutrition / etiology*
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Risk Factors
  • Weight Loss