Serum Albumin Is an Independent Predictor of Clinical Outcomes in Critically Ill Children*

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Abstract

Objectives:

Serum albumin is a strong biomarker of disease severity and prognosis in adult patients. In contrast, its value as predictor of outcome in critically ill children has not been established. We aimed to determine whether admission hypoalbuminemia is associated with outcome in a general pediatric population of critically ill patients, taking into account the inflammatory response, disease severity, and nutritional status of the patient.

Design:

Analysis of prospectively collected database.

Setting:

PICU of a teaching hospital.

Patients:

Two hundred seventy-one patients consecutively admitted. Neonates, patients with chronic liver or kidney disease, inborn errors of metabolism, those who received prior administration of albumin solution, and readmissions were excluded.

Measurements and Main Results:

Outcome variables were 60-day mortality, probability of ICU discharge at 60 days, and ventilator-free days. Potential exposure variables for the outcome were sex, age, nutritional status, albumin, C-reactive protein and serum lactate at admission, and Pediatric Index of Mortality 2 score. Admission hypoalbuminemia was present in 64.2% of patients. After adjustment for confounding factors, only serum lactate, Pediatric Index of Mortality 2 score, and serum albumin were associated with higher mortality: the increase of 1.0 g/dL in serum albumin at admission resulted in a 73% reduction in the hazard of death (hazard ratio, 0.27; 95% CI, 0.14–0.51; p < 0.001). The increase of 1 g/dL in serum albumin was also independently associated with a 33% rise in the probability of ICU discharge (subhazard ratio, 1.33; 95% CI, 1.07–1.64; p = 0.008) and increased ventilator-free-days (odds ratio, 1.86; 95% CI, 0.56–3.16; p = 0.005).

Conclusions:

Hypoalbuminemia at admission to a PICU is associated with higher 60-day mortality, longer duration of mechanical ventilation, and lower probability of ICU discharge. These associations are independent of the magnitude of inflammatory response, clinical severity, and nutritional status.

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