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JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 1985 May-Jun;9(3):303-6.

Significance of hypoalbuminemia in pediatric oncology patients--malnutrition or infection?


Nutritional status was evaluated on 210 occasions in 90 pediatric oncology inpatients during a 7-month period; 39 had solid tumors and 51 leukemia. Ages ranged from 3 months to 20 yr. Nutritional parameters were defined as normal, "at risk," or "probably malnourished." Fifty-seven and 29% of assessments revealed at least one parameter "at risk" or "probably malnourished," respectively. Prognosis was negatively related to the number of abnormal nutritional parameters. Serum albumin was most frequently abnormal. However, on most occasions, hypoalbuminemia was associated with weight/height, arm muscle area, and triceps skinfold measurements in the normal range. In order to further identify determinants of serum albumin, we analyzed dietary, chemotherapy, and temperature data in 10 prospectively studied leukemia patients, half of whom received parenteral nutrition. In these patients there was little relationship of serum albumin to chemotherapy or dietary intake. In all of these patients, especially those receiving total parenteral nutrition, low serum albumin was highly associated with fever (p less than 0.0005). We concluded that febrile illness is an important determinant of abnormal serum albumin concentrations. In pediatric cancer patients, abnormal serum albumin may more often reflect the acute metabolic response to fever and infection than depletion of body mass.

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