The Need for Nutrition Support Teams in Pediatric Units: A Commentary by the ESPGHAN Committee on Nutrition

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Abstract

ABSTRACT

The reported prevalence of malnutrition in pediatric hospitals ranges from 15% to 30% of patients, with an impact on growth, morbidity and mortality. Major deficits in nutrition care have been highlighted in European hospitals, and the implementation of nutrition support teams (NSTs) has been suggested as a means to improve malnutrition diagnosis and nutrition care for hospitalized patients.

This comment by the ESPGHAN Committee on Nutrition reviews disease related-mechanisms causing malnutrition and consequences of malnutrition and suggests a framework for implementation of NSTs in pediatric units. The recommendations by the Committee on Nutrition include: 1) Implementation of NSTs in hospitals is recommended to improve nutritional management of sick children; 2) The main tasks of the NST should include screening for nutritional risk, identification of patients who require nutritional support, provision of adequate nutritional management, education and training of hospital staff and audit of practice; 3) The NST should be multidisciplinary, with expertise in all aspects of clinical nutrition care; 4) The funds needed to support NSTs should be raised from the health care system; and 5) Further research is needed to evaluate the effects of NSTs in prevention and management of pediatric nutritional disorders, including cost effectiveness in different settings.

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