Guidelines for the Provision and Assessment of Nutrition Support Therapy in the Pediatric Critically Ill Patient: Society of Critical Care Medicine and American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition

JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 2017 Jul;41(5):706-742. doi: 10.1177/0148607117711387. Epub 2017 Jun 2.


This document represents the first collaboration between 2 organizations-the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition and the Society of Critical Care Medicine-to describe best practices in nutrition therapy in critically ill children. The target of these guidelines is intended to be the pediatric critically ill patient (>1 month and <18 years) expected to require a length of stay >2-3 days in a PICU admitting medical, surgical, and cardiac patients. In total, 2032 citations were scanned for relevance. The PubMed/MEDLINE search resulted in 960 citations for clinical trials and 925 citations for cohort studies. The EMBASE search for clinical trials culled 1661 citations. In total, the search for clinical trials yielded 1107 citations, whereas the cohort search yielded 925. After careful review, 16 randomized controlled trials and 37 cohort studies appeared to answer 1 of the 8 preidentified question groups for this guideline. We used the GRADE criteria (Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development, and Evaluation) to adjust the evidence grade based on assessment of the quality of study design and execution. These guidelines are not intended for neonates or adult patients. The guidelines reiterate the importance of nutrition assessment-particularly, the detection of malnourished patients who are most vulnerable and therefore may benefit from timely intervention. There is a need for renewed focus on accurate estimation of energy needs and attention to optimizing protein intake. Indirect calorimetry, where feasible, and cautious use of estimating equations and increased surveillance for unintended caloric underfeeding and overfeeding are recommended. Optimal protein intake and its correlation with clinical outcomes are areas of great interest. The optimal route and timing of nutrient delivery are areas of intense debate and investigations. Enteral nutrition remains the preferred route for nutrient delivery. Several strategies to optimize enteral nutrition during critical illness have emerged. The role of supplemental parenteral nutrition has been highlighted, and a delayed approach appears to be beneficial. Immunonutrition cannot be currently recommended. Overall, the pediatric critical care population is heterogeneous, and a nuanced approach to individualizing nutrition support with the aim of improving clinical outcomes is necessary.

Keywords: adolescent; algorithm; child; critical illness; energy; enteral nutrition; guidelines; immunonutrition; indirect calorimetry; infant; intensive care unit; malnutrition; nutrition team; obesity; parenteral nutrition; pediatric; pediatric nutrition assessment; protein; protein balance; resting energy expenditure.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Nutrition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Child Nutrition Disorders / therapy
  • Critical Care / standards
  • Critical Illness / therapy*
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Proteins / standards
  • Enteral Nutrition / standards*
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units, Pediatric
  • Length of Stay
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Nutritional Status
  • Parenteral Nutrition / standards*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Societies, Medical*


  • Dietary Proteins