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Background & aims: Previous studies reported a wide range of estimated malnutrition prevalence (6-30%) in paediatric inpatients based on various anthropometric criteria. We performed anthropometry in hospitalised children and assessed the relationship between malnutrition and length of hospital stay (LOS) and complication rates. Methods: In a prospective multi-centre European study, 2567 patients aged 1 month to 18 years were assessed in 14 centres in 12 countries by standardised anthropometry within the first 24 h after admission. Body mass index (BMI) and height/length <-2 standard deviation scores (SDS, WHO reference) were related to LOS (primary outcome), frequency of gastrointestinal (diarrhoea and vomiting) and infectious complications (antibiotic use), weight change during stay (secondary outcomes) and quality of life. Results: A BMI <-2 SDS was present in 7.0% of the patients at hospital admission (range 4.0-9.3% across countries) with a higher prevalence in infants (10.8%) and toddlers aged 1-2 years (8.3%). A BMI <-2 to ≥-3 SDS (moderate malnutrition) and a BMI <-3 SDS (severe malnutrition) was associated with a 1.3 (CI95: 1.01, 1.55) and 1.6 (CI95: 1.27, 2.10) days longer LOS, respectively (p = 0.04 and p < 0.001). Reduced BMI <-2 SDS was also associated to lower quality of life, and more frequent occurrence of diarrhoea (22% vs 12%, p < 0.001) and vomiting (26% vs 14%, p < 0.001). Conclusion: Disease associated malnutrition in hospitalised children in Europe is common and is associated with significantly prolonged LOS and increased complications, with possible major cost implications, and reduced quality of life. This study was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT01132742. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd and European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism.

Original publication

DOI

10.1016/j.clnu.2014.01.003

Type

Journal article

Journal

Clinical Nutrition

Publication Date

2014

Keywords

Anthropometry, Hospitalized children, Length of hospital stay, Malnutrition, Short stature, Under-nutrition