Malnutrition in hospitalized children with congenital heart disease

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1995 Oct;149(10):1098-102. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.1995.02170230052007.


Objective: To determine the prevalence of malnutrition among hospitalized children with congenital heart disease by age, disease process, and clinical status.

Design: Cross-sectional, retrospective chart review.

Setting: Pediatric cardiology units at a 150-bed tertiary care teaching hospital in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Patients: Patients (n = 160) were randomly selected from consecutive admissions to the Pediatric Cardiology and Thoracic Surgery Services during a 1-year period.

Intervention: None.

Main outcome measures: Acute and chronic malnutrition, assessed by comparing the patients' weight and height with established means.

Results: Acute and chronic malnutrition occurred in 33% and 64% of the patients, respectively. Age, diagnostic category, and symptoms were associated with malnutrition. Eighty percent of infants presented with acute malnutrition compared with 18% of patients of other ages (P < .001). Malnutrition affected 60% of patients with left-to-right shunts, 53% of patients with complex heart disease, and no patients with primary rhythm disturbances. Acute malnutrition affected 11% and chronic malnutrition affected 50% of patients with left-sided heart obstruction. Acute or chronic malnutrition occurred in 70% or more of patients with cyanosis and/or congestive heart failure but in only 30% of patients with neither (P < .001).

Conclusion: Malnutrition in hospitalized children with congenital heart disease remains common, highlighting the importance of nutritional screening and intervention.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Child
  • Child Nutrition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Child Nutrition Disorders / etiology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / complications*
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Medical Records
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies