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Infant Child Adolesc Nutr. 2011 Aug;3(4):216-224.

Allometric Prediction of Energy Expenditure in Infants and Children.

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Division of General, Thoracic and Fetal Surgery, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


Predicting energy needs in children is complicated by the wide range of patient sizes, confusing traditional estimation equations, nonobjective stress-activity factors, and so on. These complications promote errors in bedside estimates of nutritional needs by rendering the estimation methods functionally unavailable to bedside clinicians. Here, the authors develop a simple heuristic energy prediction equation that requires only body mass (not height, age, or sex) as input. Expert estimation of energy expenditure suggested a power-law relationship between mass and energy. A similar mass-energy expenditure relationship was derived from published pediatric echocardiographic data using a Monte Carlo model of energy expenditure based on oxygen delivery and consumption. A simplified form of the equation was compared with energy required for normal growth in a cohort of historical patients weighing 2 to 70 kg. All 3 methods demonstrate that variation in energy expenditure in children is dominated by mass and can be estimated by the following equation: Power(kcal/kg/d) = 200 × [Mass(kg)((-0.4))]. This relationship explains 85% of the variability in energy required to maintain expected growth over a broad range of surgical clinical contexts. A simplified power-law equation predicts real-world energy needs for growth in patients over a wide range of body sizes and clinical contexts, providing a more useful bedside tool than traditional estimators.

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