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J Rheumatol. 2009 Dec;36(12):2737-43. doi: 10.3899/jrheum.090694. Epub 2009 Oct 15.

Malnutrition is common in systemic sclerosis: results from the Canadian scleroderma research group database.

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SMBD-Jewish General Hospital and McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.



Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is a multisystem disease associated with significant morbidity and increased mortality. Little is known about nutritional status in SSc. We investigated the prevalence and demographic and clinical correlates of nutritional status in a large cohort of patients with SSc.


This was a cross-sectional multicenter study of patients (n = 586) from the Canadian Scleroderma Research Group Registry. Patients were assessed with detailed clinical histories, medical examinations, and self-administered questionnaires. The primary outcome was risk for malnutrition using the "malnutrition universal screening tool" (MUST). Multiple logistic regression was used to assess the relationship between selected demographic and clinical variables and MUST categories.


Of the 586 patients in the study, MUST scores revealed that almost 18% were at high risk for malnutrition. The significant correlates of high malnutrition risk included the number of gastrointestinal (GI) complaints, disease duration, diffuse disease, physician global assessment of disease severity, hemoglobin, oral aperture, abdominal distension on physical examination, and physician-assessed possible malabsorption. Among 14 GI symptoms, only poor appetite and lack of a history of abdominal swelling and bloating predict MUST. These factors accounted for 24% of the variance in MUST scores.


The risk for malnutrition in SSc is moderate and is associated with shorter disease duration, markers of GI involvement, and disease severity. Patients with SSc should be screened for malnutrition, and potential underlying causes assessed and treated when possible.

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