Background/objectives: The prevalence of malnutrition among hospitalized children ranges between 12% and 24%. Although the consequences of hospital malnutrition are enormous, it is often unrecognized and untreated. The aim of this study was to identify the current status of in-hospital nutrition support for children in South Korea by carrying out a nationwide hospital-based survey.
Subjects/methods: Out of 345 general and tertiary hospitals in South Korea, a total of 53 institutes with pediatric gastroenterologists and more than 10 pediatric inpatients were selected. A questionnaire was developed by the nutrition committee of the Korean Society of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition. The questionnaires were sent to pediatric gastroenterologists in each hospital. Survey was performed by e-mails.
Results: Forty hospitals (75.5%) responded to the survey; 23 of them were tertiary hospitals, and 17 of them were general hospitals. Only 21 hospitals (52.5%) had all the required nutritional support personnel (including pediatrician, nutritionist, pharmacist, and nurse) assigned to pediatric patients. Routine nutritional screening was performed in 22 (55.0%) hospitals on admission, which was lower than that in adult patients (65.8%). Nutritional screening tools varied among hospitals; 33 of 40 (82.5%) hospitals used their own screening tools. The most frequently used nutritional assessment parameters were weight, height, hemoglobin, and serum albumin levels. In our nationwide hospital-based survey, the most frequently reported main barriers of nutritional support in hospitals were lack of manpower and excessive workload, followed by insufficient knowledge and experience.
Conclusions: Although this nationwide hospital-based survey targeted general and tertiary hospitals with pediatric gastroenterologists, manpower and medical resources for nutritional support were still insufficient for hospitalized children, and nutritional screening was not routinely performed in many hospitals. More attention to hospital malnutrition and additional national policies for nutritional support in hospitals are required to ensure appropriate nutritional management of hospitalized pediatric patients.
Keywords: Enteral nutrition; hospitalized children; malnutrition; nutritional support; parenteral nutrition.
Conflict of interest statement
CONFLICT OF INTEREST: The authors declare no potential conflicts of interests.
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