Disease-related undernutrition in hospitalized children in Belgium

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The overall aim of this thesis was to study the current status of undernutrition in hospitalized children in Belgium and to present a plan for the early detection of undernourished children during hospitalization. We started our work by describing that 12% of a sample of 379 children in four different Belgian hospitals were considered undernourished according to at least one anthropometric parameter. Only one-third of the children with a weight for height <- 2 SD at admission received a nutritional intervention. We retrospectively studied the nutritional evolution and management of 56 previously healthy children hospitalized for pneumonia with parapneumonic effusion. One-third lost ≥5% of their body weight during hospitalization. We validated the STRONGkids as a rapid and easy tool that can also be used by nurses in everyday practice. Children classified as low risk by the STRONGkids had a 5% probability of having a WFH <-2 SD at admission, with only 1% probability of a nutritional intervention during hospitalization. We compared the STRONGkids with other pediatric screening tools in a systematic review, but failed to find compelling evidence to recommend one screening method over another. Using a nationwide survey, we showed that systematic nutritional screening had not been widely adopted in Belgium secondary care level hospitals. A standard protocol or action plan for the management of undernutrition was present in only a small minority of the centres. We therefore proposed pediatric guidelines for the implementation of nutritional screening in everyday hospital practice.
Date of Award30 May 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Vrije Universiteit Brussel
SupervisorJean De Schepper (Promotor), Yvan Vandenplas (Promotor), Michel Deneyer (Jury), Elisabeth De Waele (Jury), Geneviève Veereman (Jury), Marc Noppen (Jury), K. Joosten (Jury), Ilse Hoffman (Jury) & Stephanie Van Biervliet (Jury)


  • undernutrition
  • children
  • hospitalization

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