Malnutrition among Hospitalized Children in the United States: Changing Prevalence, Clinical Correlates, and Practice Patterns between 2002 and 2011

      Abstract

      Background

      Pediatric malnutrition has been associated with adverse clinical outcomes, longer lengths of stay, and higher health care costs.

      Objective

      To characterize prevalence, temporal trends, and short-term clinical outcomes of coded diagnoses of pediatric malnutrition (CDM) across sociodemographic, clinical, and hospital characteristics from 2002 to 2011.

      Design

      This study is a retrospective cross-sectional analysis of nationally representative data from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample and the Kids’ Inpatient Database.

      Participants/setting

      The study sample included pediatric inpatient hospitalizations in the United States.

      Main outcome measures

      International Classification of Diseases-9th Revision-Clinical Modification diagnosis codes were used to identify CDM and coded malnutrition subtypes based on an etiology-related definition of pediatric malnutrition.

      Statistical analyses

      The national frequency and prevalence of CDM overall and across patient- and hospital-level characteristics were estimated for children aged 1 month to 17 years. Logistic regression was used to assess the association between CDM and each characteristic. Analyses evaluated conditions associated with the highest burden and risk of CDM, and compared clinical outcomes across malnutrition subtypes. Joinpoint regression was used to describe temporal trends in CDM.

      Results

      Of the 2.1 million pediatric patients hospitalized annually, more than 54,600 had CDM, a national prevalence of 2.6%. Considerable variation was observed based on primary diagnosis, with fluid and electrolyte disorders contributing the most malnutrition cases. Highest CDM rates were among patients with stomach cancer, cystic fibrosis, and human immunodeficiency virus. Patients with CDM experienced worse clinical outcomes, longer lengths of stay, and increased costs of inpatient care. The overall prevalence of CDM increased from 1.9% in 2002 to 3.7% in 2011, an 8% annual increase, and temporal increases were observed in nearly all population subgroups.

      Conclusions

      Despite improvements, pediatric malnutrition remains underdiagnosed in inpatient settings when relying exclusively on International Classification of Diseases-based codes, which underscores the need for a national benchmarking program to estimate the true prevalence, clinical significance, and cost of pediatric malnutrition.

      Keywords

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      Biography

      J. Carvalho-Salemi is a clinical dietitian, Department of Renal and Pheresis Services, Department of Food and Nutrition Services, Texas Children’s Hospital, Houston.

      Biography

      M. R. Wong-Vega is a clinical dietitian, Department of Renal and Pheresis Services, Department of Food and Nutrition Services, Texas Children’s Hospital, Houston.

      Biography

      M. D. Juarez is a senior clinical dietitian, Department of Renal and Pheresis Services, Department of Food and Nutrition Services, Texas Children’s Hospital, Houston.

      Biography

      S. S. Beer is a clinical dietitian, Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition, Texas Children’s Hospital, Houston.

      Biography

      N. L. Canada is assistant director, Clinical Nutrition Services, Texas Children’s Hospital, Houston.

      Biography

      J. L. Salemi is an assistant professor, Department of Family and Community Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX.

      Biography

      K. K. Spooner is a postdoctoral associate, Department of Family and Community Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX.