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JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 2011 Jul;35(4):523-9. doi: 10.1177/0148607110386610. Epub 2011 May 24.

Nutrition therapy in a pediatric intensive care unit: indications, monitoring, and complications.

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Division of Nutrition, Nutritional Team of Instituto da Criança do Hospital das Clínicas da Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil.



Nutrition therapy (NT) is essential for the care of critically ill children. Inadequate feeding leads to malnutrition and may increase the patient's risk of morbidity and mortality. The aim of this study was to describe the NT used in a tertiary pediatric intensive care unit (PICU).


The authors evaluated NT administered to 90 consecutive patients who were hospitalized for 7 days in the PICU of Instituto da Criança, Hospital das Clínicas, Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil. NT was established according to the protocol provided by the institution's NT team. NT provided a balance of fluids and nutrients and was monitored with a weekly anthropometric nutrition assessment and an evaluation of complications.


NT was initiated, on average, within 72 hours of hospitalization. Most children (80%) received enteral nutrition (EN) therapy; of these, 35% were fed orally and the rest via nasogastric or postpyloric tube. There were gastrointestinal complications in patients (5%) who needed a postpyloric tube. Parenteral nutrition (PN) was used in only 10% of the cases, and the remaining 10% received mixed NT (EN + PN). The average calorie and protein intake was 82 kcal/kg and 2.7 g/kg per day. Arm circumference and triceps skinfold thickness decreased.


The use of EN was prevalent in the tertiary PICU, and few clinical complications occurred. There was no statistically significant change in most anthropometric indicators evaluated during hospitalization, which suggests that NT probably helped patients maintain their nutrition status.

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