National malnutrition screening days in hospitalized children in the Netherlands

Koen F M Joosten, Henrike Zwart, Wim C Hop, and Jessie M Hulst

A nationwide study has shown that 19% of children admitted to Dutch hospitals are malnourished at admission. This high prevalence underlines the need for routine screening and treatment of malnutrition in hospitalized children.

This prospective observational study investigated the prevalence of malnutrition of all newly admitted children in Paediatric wards at 44 hospitals (7 academic and 37 general) in the Netherlands during three consecutive days.

A total of 424 children aged ≥30 days and hospitalized for ≥ one day were included, 63% male, 86% non-Caucasian. Median age was 3.5 years and median hospital stay was 2 days.

Overall 19% of the children had acute and/or chronic malnutrition at admission (academic 22% and general 17%). The proportion of children with chronic malnutrition was significantly higher in academic hospitals (14% vs. 6%). There was a significant relationship between the presence of malnutrition at admission and underlying disease (OR= 2.2) and both underlying disease and non-Caucasian ethnicity were significantly related to a higher prevalence of chronic malnutrition. Multiple regression analysis showed that children with acute malnutrition stayed on average 45% longer (95% CI: 7-95%) in the hospital than children without such malnutrition.

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