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Penn Nursing Professor Co-authors New Guidelines for Nutrition Therapy in Critically Ill Children

The American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (A.S.P.E.N.) and the Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM) joined forces to develop new guidelines for the provision of optimal nutritional support therapy for critically ill children ages one month to 18 years of age.

Penn Nursing’s Sharon Y. Irving, PhD, CRNP, FCCM, FAAN, Assistant Professor of Pediatric Nursing in the Department of Family and Community Health, was part of the research team responsible for developing these guidelines.

The investigators performed an exhaustive literature review reviewing over 2,032 citations for relevance related to pediatric nutritional support, specifically looking at the data for critically ill pediatric patients with a length of stay greater than two or three days in a pediatric intensive care unit, admitting medical, surgical, and cardiac patients. The previous guidelines were published by A.S.P.E.N. in 2009 and did not provide the same depth to assist health care providers to guide decision-making when providing nutrition support therapy to their youngest patients.

In its review, the research team found:

  • there is a significant gap in proper nutritional interventions, particularly among malnourished pediatric patients;
  • early provision of nutrition support has an impact;
  • timing and method of nutrient delivery is important;
  • a skilled nutrition support team is a key differentiator;
  • ongoing monitoring is critical to avoid unintended caloric under- or overfeeding; and
  • determining how much nutrition is needed is an important factor. 

“These guidelines are a critical component to the delivery of care for critically ill pediatric patients.  We worked tirelessly to review the literature and pull together what we believe are the best answers to the common current questions providers encounter when striving to optimize nutrition support in critically ill pediatric patients,” said Irving. “I am honored to be a part of this team and have contributed to this important work.”