Public Release:  New hospital screening tool helps find children at nutritional risk easier, study finds

American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (A.S.P.E.N.)

Pediatric inpatients with poor nutrition are at greater risk for problems with their immune systems, physical and cognitive development, and clinical outcomes. Detection of nutritional issues in pediatric inpatients would allow providers to develop intervention and treatment plans to improve health outcomes.

While hospitals do not commonly screen children for nutrition, a new tool developed in Australia could change that.

In a study published today in the OnlineFirst version of the Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (JPEN), the research journal of the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (A.S.P.E.N.), a four-question survey was found to be very effective at finding nutrition issues in pediatric patients.

The Pediatric Nutrition Screening Tool (PNST), tested in three hospitals in Australia, was found to be more effective than the existing pediatric Subjective Global Nutrition Assessment (SGNA). The PNST identified 37.6 percent of patients as being at nutritional risk, whereas the pediatric SGNA identified 34.2 percent. The PNSA was also effective at finding patients with low Body Mass Index (BMI).

However, neither screening tool was highly effective at detecting patients whose growth was stunted due to malnutrition or patients who were overweight. Further refinement of PNST could improve this performance.

The PNST has the further advantage of being easier to administer than the SGNA or other screening tools. With only four questions and no requirements for further personnel training, the PNST can be administered quickly and simply upon patient admission.

While the PNST showed promise in this study, the researchers suggest further study is needed to independently validate its use and to refine it for more effective use.

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A publication of the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (A.S.P.E.N.), the Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (JPEN) is the premier scientific journal of nutrition and metabolic support. It publishes original, peer-reviewed studies that define the cutting edge of basic and clinical research in the field. It explores the science of optimizing the care of patients receiving enteral or intravenous therapies. All published JPEN articles are available online at http://pen.sagepub.com.

The American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (A.S.P.E.N.) is dedicated to improving patient care by advancing the science and practice of nutrition support therapy and metabolism. Founded in 1976, A.S.P.E.N. is an interdisciplinary organization whose members are involved in the provision of clinical nutrition therapies, including parenteral and enteral nutrition. With more than 6,000 members from around the world, A.S.P.E.N. is a community of dietitians, nurses, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, physicians, scientists, students, and other health professionals from every facet of nutrition support clinical practice, research, and education. For more information about A.S.P.E.N., please visit http://www.nutritioncare.org.

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