Nutritional status in children with cancer: Prevalence, related factors, and consequences of malnutrition

Aeltsje Brinksma

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    An inadequate nutritional status during treatment for childhood cancer has substantial implications for both survival rates and quality of life. With more than 130 participants, the Pecannut study is one of the largest studies to examine nutritional status in children with cancer. The study demonstrated that at diagnosis more children were malnourished than the literature indicates because weight loss is generally not included in the assessment of nutritional status.
    After the start of treatment, 35% of the children had significant weight loss, and 17% had muscle wasting. During the first year after diagnosis, however, weight and fat mass increased and the percentage of overnourished children doubled. The main contributory factors to this increase were tube feeding and low levels of physical activity. Energy requirements were decreased because the children were inactive.
    Weight loss was associated with a higher risk of infections, and undernourished children had lower survival rates. In addition, both undernourished and overnourished children experienced worse health-related quality of life than well-nourished children with cancer.
    In sum:
    • the issues regarding nutritional status in children with cancer are complex;
    • malnutrition is associated with serious consequences;
    • providing adequate nutritional support, stopping tube feeding in due time, and increasing physical activity are central to improving nutritional status.
    Based on these outcomes, the Department of Pediatric Oncology has started a project in which health professionals collaborate with children and parents to develop tools that improve dietary intake and stimulate physical activity. Results of the project will be evaluated in follow-up research.
    Translated title of the contributionVoedingstoestand bij kinderen met kanker: Prevalentie, verklarende factoren en gevolgen van een slechte voedingstoestand
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Groningen
    • Roodbol, Petrie, Supervisor
    • Sanderman, Robbert, Supervisor
    • de Bont, Eveline, Supervisor
    • Tissing, Wim, Co-supervisor
    Award date1-Oct-2014
    Place of Publication[S.l.]
    Print ISBNs978-90-367-7186-3
    Electronic ISBNs978-90-367-7185-6
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

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