ISSN : 2146-3123
E-ISSN : 2146-3131

The Prevalence of Malnutrition and Effectiveness of STRONGkids Tool in the Identification of Malnutrition Risks among Pediatric Surgical Patients
Çiğdem Ulukaya Durakbaşa 1, Selma Fettahoğlu 1, Ahu Bayar 1, Murat Mutus 1, Hamit Okur 1
1Department of Pediatric Surgery, İstanbul Medeniyet University Faculty of Medicine, İstanbul, Turkey
DOI : 10.5152/balkanmedj.2014.14374
Pages : 313-321


Background: High prevalence of malnutrition along with the risk for the development of malnutrition in hospitalised children has been reported. However, this problem remains largely unrecognised by healthcare workers.

Aims: To determine the prevalence of malnutrition and effectiveness of STRONGkids nutritional risk screening (NRS) tool in the identification of malnutrition risk among pediatric surgical patients.

Study Design: Cross-sectional study.

Methods: A total of 494 pediatric surgical patients (median age 59 months, 75.8% males) were included in this prospective study conducted over 3 months. SD-scores <-2 for Body Mass Index (BMI) for age or weight-for-height (WFH) and height-for-age (HFA) were considered to indicate acute and chronic malnutrition, respectively. The STRONGkids NRS tool was used to determine risk for malnutrition.

Results: Malnutrition was detected in 13.4% in this group of pediatric surgical patients. Acute malnutrition was identified in 10.1% of patients and more commonly in patients aged ≤60 months than aged >60 months (13.4 vs. 6.6%, p=0.012). Chronic malnutrition was identified in 23 (4.6%) of patients with no significant difference between age groups. There were 7 (1.4%) children with coexistent acute and chronic malnutrition. The STRONGkids tool revealed that 35.7% of patients were either in the moderate or high risk group for malnutrition. Malnutrition, as revealed by anthropometric measurements, was more likely in the presence of gastrointestinal (26.9%, p=0.004) and inguinoscrotal/penile surgery (4.0%, p=0.031), co-morbidities affecting nutritional status (p<0.001) and inpatient admissions (p=0.014). Among patients categorized as low risk for malnutrition, there were more outpatients than inpatients (89.3 vs. 10.7%, p<0.001) and more elective surgery cases than emergency surgery cases (93.4 vs. 6.6%, p<0.001). 

Conclusion: Providing data on the prevalence of malnutrition and risk of malnutrition in a prospectively recruited group of hospitalised pediatric surgical patients, the data acquired in the present study emphasise the need to raise clinician’s awareness about the importance of nutritional status assessment among hospitalised pediatric patients and the benefits of identifying patients at the risk of nutritional depletion before malnutrition occurs. Our findings support the use of the STRONGkids tool among pediatric surgical patients to identify patients at risk for malnutrition and to increase the physician’s awareness of nutritional assessment among hospitalised patients upon admission.

Keywords : Hospitalisation, malnutrition, nutritional status, outpatients, pediatric surgery, risk assessment, STRONGkids
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