Why Delay? Early Enteral Nutrition in Pediatric Burn Patients Improves Outcomes

J Burn Care Res. 2021 Mar 4;42(2):171-176. doi: 10.1093/jbcr/iraa129.


Children who sustain moderate to large surface area burns present in a hypermetabolic state with increased caloric and protein requirements. A policy was implemented at our institution in 2017 to initiate enteral nutrition (EN) in pediatric burn patients within 4 hours of admission. The authors hypothesize that early EN (initiated within 4 hours of admission) is more beneficial than late EN (initiated ≥ 4 hours from admission) for pediatric burn patients and is associated with decreased rates of pneumonia, increased calorie and protein intake, fewer feeding complications, a shorter Intensive Care Unit (ICU) length of stay (LOS), and a reduced hospital LOS. Children who sustained a total body surface area (TBSA) burn injury ≥ 10% between 2011 and 2018 were identified in a prospectively maintained burn registry at Children's Hospital Colorado. Patients were stratified into two groups for comparison: early EN and late EN. The authors identified 132 pediatric burn patients who met inclusion criteria, and most (60%) were male. Approximately half (48%) of the study patients were in the early EN group. The early EN group had lower rates of underfeeding during the first week (P = .014) and shorter ICU LOS (P = .025). Achieving and sustaining adequate nutrition in pediatric burn patients with moderate to large surface area burn injuries are critical to recovery. Early EN in pediatric burn patients is associated with decreased underfeeding and reduced ICU LOS. The authors recommend protocols to institute feeding for patients with burns ≥ 10% TBSA within 4 hours of admission at all pediatric burn centers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Burns / therapy*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Critical Illness / therapy*
  • Enteral Nutrition / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Parenteral Nutrition / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome