Malnutrition in pediatric hospital patients: current issues

Nutrition. 2011 Feb;27(2):133-7. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2010.06.001. Epub 2010 Aug 13.


Malnutrition in hospitalized children is still very prevalent, especially in children with underlying disease and clinical conditions. The purpose of this review is to describe current issues that have to be taken into account when interpreting prevalence data. Weight-for-height and height-for-age standard deviation scores are used for classification for acute and chronic malnutrition, respectively. Body mass index for age can also be used for the definition of acute malnutrition but has a few advantages in the general pediatric population. The new World Health Organization child-growth charts can be used as reference but there is a risk of over- and underestimation of malnutrition rates compared with country-specific growth references. For children with specific medical conditions and syndromes, specific growth references should be used for appropriate interpretation of nutritional status. New screening tools are available to identify children at risk for developing malnutrition during admission. Because of the diversity of medical conditions and syndromes in hospitalized children, assessment of nutritional status and interpretation of anthropometric data need a tailored approach.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anthropometry
  • Body Height
  • Body Weight
  • Child
  • Child, Hospitalized*
  • Failure to Thrive
  • Growth Charts
  • Hospitals, Pediatric*
  • Humans
  • Inpatients*
  • Malnutrition / epidemiology*
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors