To minimise their hospital stay and maximise the effects of their treatment, researchers in China have suggested detailed nutrition assessment and well-timed nutritional support for such children.
Researchers at the Shanghai Jiao Tong University conducted a cross-sectional prospective study at the Shanghai Children’s Hospital on 380 children with liver disease between the ages of one month and five years.
They evaluated the children’s nutritional status and found that 7.9% were wasted, 9% were underweight, and 9.8% were stunted.
Additionally, they noted that the overall nutritional risk of children with liver disease being stunted, wasted and underweight was 11.8%, 12.6% and 12.9%, respectively.
Paediatric liver disease patients with cholestasis were even more likely to be vulnerable.
The researchers wrote that despite there being no significant difference with regards to wasting between the liver disease patients with cholestasis and those without, “the prevalence of undernutrition was significantly higher in children with cholestasis than children without cholestasis”, with 14.9% underweight and 17.5% stunted.
Additionally, this was higher than the overall malnutrition rate of paediatric in-patients in Shanghai (5.2% wasted, 5.5 underweight and 7.1% stunted) as of 2007, and much higher than the overall rate of malnutrition in Chinese children below the age of five (1.8% wasted, 3.1% underweight and 4.9% stunted) as of 2002.
They added that “further multivariate logistic regression analysis strengthened the evidence that cholestasis was significantly associated with undernutrition of stunting and (being) underweight”, and that the prevalence of infection-induced stunting was lower in hospitalised children with liver disease but not cholestasis.
Stepping up nutrition
These results support the need for not just more detailed nutritional reports, but also timely and sufficient nutrition for children with liver disease, especially if they also suffer from cholestasis.
The researchers concluded: “The malnutrition prevalence in hospitalised children with liver disease is high, especially in children with cholestasis.
“In order to shorten the hospitalisation time and improve the clinical outcome, nutrition assessment and timely nutritional support are recommended for hospitalised children with liver disease.”
Source: Journal of Nutritional Science
“Prevalence of malnutrition and risk of undernutrition in hospitalised children with liver disease”
Authors: Ronghua Yu, et al.