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J Pediatr (Rio J). 2006 Jan-Feb;82(1):70-4.

The effects of hospitalization on the nutritional status of children.

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Universidade Estadual do CearĂ¡, Fortaleza, CE, Brazil.



To evaluate the nutritional status of children at hospital admission and again at hospital discharge and to investigate factors associated with the onset and/or exacerbation of malnutrition.


An observational study of 203 children under 5 years old admitted to a hospital in the city of Fortaleza between August and December 2003. Nutritional status, expressed in z-scores for weight/age, stature/age and weight/stature, was compared at the time of admission and on hospital discharge and broken down by sex, age, condition responsible for hospitalization and length of hospital stay.


On admission prevalence rates for moderate and/or severe malnutrition (z-score < -2) were 18.7, 18.2 and 6.9%, for weight/age, stature/age and weight/stature, respectively. During their stay in hospital 51.6% of the 186 children who completed the study lost weight, with most weight being lost by those with prolonged hospital stays and pneumonia as the disease responsible for their hospitalization. Children who had malnutrition on admission were still malnourished at hospital discharge and 10 (9.17%) well-nourished children developed mild malnutrition while hospitalized.


The prevalence of malnutrition at the time of admission was elevated and remained unchanged by discharge. Prolonged hospitalization and pneumonia were linked with weight loss in hospital.

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