Enteral Nutrition and Acid-Suppressive Therapy in the PICU: Impact on the Risk of Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia

Pediatr Crit Care Med. 2016 Oct;17(10):924-929. doi: 10.1097/PCC.0000000000000915.


Objective: Enteral nutrition has been implicated as a risk factor for ventilator-associated pneumonia. We explored the prevalence of ventilator-associated pneumonia and its association with clinical and nutrition-related therapies in mechanically ventilated children.

Design: Prospective, multicenter, cohort study.

Setting: Fifty-nine PICU in 15 countries.

Patients: Children less than 18 years old, mechanically ventilated for more than 48 hours.

Interventions: None. Multivariable logistic regression to determine factors associated with ventilator-associated pneumonia.

Measurements and major results: Data are presented as median (interquartile range) or counts (%). We enrolled 1,245 subjects (45% women; 42% surgical), age 20 months (4-84 mo), and duration of mechanical ventilation 7 days (3-13 d). Culture-positive ventilator-associated pneumonia was diagnosed in 80 patients (6.4%); duration of mechanical ventilation for this subgroup was 17 days (8-39 d). Enteral nutrition was delivered in 985 patients (79%), initiated within 48 hours in 592 patients (60%), and via postpyloric route in 354 patients (36%). Acid-suppressive agents were used in 763 patients (61%). The duration of enteral nutrition (p = 0.21), route (gastric vs postpyloric) of delivery (p = 0.94), severity of illness (p = 0.17), and diagnostic category on admission (p = 0.31) were not associated with ventilator-associated pneumonia. After adjusting for enteral nutrition days, illness severity, and site, ventilator-associated pneumonia was significantly associated with mechanical ventilation more than 10 days (odds ratio, 3.7; 95% CI, 2.2-6.5; p < 0.001), PICU length of stay more than 10 days (odds ratio, 1.8; 95% CI, 1.1-3.1; p = 0.029), and the use of acid-suppressive medication (odds ratio, 2.0; 95% CI, 1.2-3.6; p = 0.011).

Conclusions: Ventilator-associated pneumonia was diagnosed in 6.5% of mechanically ventilated children in a heterogeneous multicenter cohort. We did not find a link between enteral nutrition duration or route of delivery and ventilator-associated pneumonia. In addition to duration of mechanical ventilation and length of PICU stay, the use of acid-suppressive therapy independently increased the likelihood of developing ventilator-associated pneumonia in this population. This association must be further explored in clinical trials.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Antacids / adverse effects*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Enteral Nutrition / adverse effects*
  • Enteral Nutrition / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intensive Care Units, Pediatric
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Pneumonia, Ventilator-Associated / epidemiology
  • Pneumonia, Ventilator-Associated / etiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiration, Artificial / adverse effects*
  • Risk Factors


  • Antacids