Nutrition Is Key For Positive Outcomes After Childhood TBI

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Getting proper nutrition may be an important key in ensuring a positive outcome for children who have experienced a traumatic brain injury, according to a recent report presented at the Society of Critical Care Medicine’s 45th Critical Care Congress.


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According to the presentation, early nutritional support is linked to better outcomes and decreased risk of mortality for children who have experienced a brain injury.

“What is exciting about our findings is that kids seemed to have a better outcome, both with respect to mortality and to functional outcomes, if they were fed within 72 hours of being in the ICU,” said Elizabeth Meinert, MD, from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

“There are a lot of high-tech and physiology-focused treatments for traumatic brain injury, and I think that sometimes we forget about feeding these kids because we’re so worried about their brains,” she told Medscape Medical News.

For the study, the team reviewed data from the “Cool Kids Trial” which assessed therapeutic hypothermia as a treatment for TBI in children. In that study, the researchers randomized 77 child participants with TBI to receive hypothermia or normothermia. That study also collected information not directly relevant to the treatment assessment, including the timing of nutrition initiation. Dr. Meinart, this information allowed the team “to do our own statistical analysis, and to look at nutrition specifically.”

The timing of nutritional support for the children in the Cool Kids Trial varied significantly; 35.5% of the participating children received nutritional support 48 hours or less after they experienced a brain injury, 40.0% received it 48 to 72 hours after injury, 18.9% received it more than 72 hours after the injury, and 5.6% received no nutritional support during the study.

“There’s an increasing focus on good nutrition in ICUs and, while that’s common sense, it’s nice to actually have some data to support that we do need to address nutrition early,” said Lori Shutter, MD, from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, who moderated the oral session.

“Of course, good medical care is important, and we need to pay attention to detail, but sometimes we need to be reminded that common, basic care is also really important,” Dr Shutter explained.

“You’re so busy putting in lines, you’re so busy saving lives, you’re so busy putting in all these fancy monitors that you sometimes forget the very basics of just feeding somebody, and that may help with the entire immunologic cascade,” she added.

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