Protein intake deficiency in critically ill children with respiratory insufficiency: A call to action?

Clin Nutr ESPEN. 2020 Jun;37:69-74. doi: 10.1016/j.clnesp.2020.03.018. Epub 2020 Apr 17.


Background & aims: Adequate energy-protein intake is associated with improved clinical outcomes in critically ill children. The aim of this study was to evaluate the time of enteral nutrition (EN) onset and the energy-protein intake in critically ill pediatric patients admitted with respiratory insufficiency.

Methods: A single-center prospective cohort study, including children and adolescents, aged from 1 month to 14 years. All patients had been diagnosed with respiratory insufficiency and were exclusively enterally fed and had been admitted to a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) of a public quaternary hospital in southeastern Brazil. Demographic, clinical, and nutritional therapy characteristics were recorded. Early EN (EEN) was considered when EN was initiated within the first 48 h of PICU admission.

Results: Seventy-one patients were included in this study, 64.79% were male with a median age of 6 months (2; 13) and a median PICU length of stay of 13.00 days (6.75; 23.00). PICU mortality was 4.23% and 78.87% of patients were under mechanical ventilation within the first 48 h of PICU admission with a median time of mechanical ventilation of 10 days (6.00; 16.50). The median energy adequacy was 74.97% (50.29; 93.94) and the median protein adequacy was 56.12% (40.72; 69.81). Only 7.25% of the patients achieved protein adequacy. Nutritional variables were compared between groups: EEN and late EN (LEN). EEN was utilized in 69.01% of patients who had increased energy (41.80 [34.07; 51.17] versus 23.60 [11.22; 35.17] kcal/kg/day; p < 0.0001) and protein intake (0.94 [0.78, 1.16] versus 0.53 [0.30, 0.79] g/kg/day, p < 0.0001) and better nutritional adequacies (p < 0.0001).

Conclusions: Patients who received EEN had increased energy-protein delivery and adequacies. However, protein inadequacy occurred throughout in all patients within this sample, regardless the onset of EN.

Keywords: Critical illness; Energy; Enteral nutrition; Pediatrics; Protein; Respiratory insufficiency.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Critical Illness*
  • Enteral Nutrition
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Intensive Care Units, Pediatric
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiratory Insufficiency* / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Insufficiency* / therapy