Factors influencing malnutrition in children waiting for liver transplants

Paola Roggero, Elena Cataliotti, Laura Ulla, Susanna Stuflesser, Gabriella Nebbia, Davide Bracaloni, Alessandro Lucianetti, Bruno Gridelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nutrition deficiencies are common in children with chronic liver disease. To determine whether age, hepatic dysfunction, or energy intake influences this malnutrition, we evaluated the nutritional status of 49 children aged 2.5 mo to 13 y (mean: 35 mo; median: 12 mo). The children were divided into two groups according to age: group 1-29 patients aged ≤ 1 y (mean: 7 mo; median: 7 mo); and group 2-20 patients > 1 y (mean: 75 mo; median: 59 mo). Hepatic dysfunction was defined according to the Malatack criteria. Seventy-two-hour dietary intakes were recorded by a nutritionist. Nutritional status was assessed by anthropometric measures when the patients were enrolled on the waiting list for liver transplants. We evaluated the following indexes: weight, height, fat body mass, and lean body mass on the basis of height-age (age at which height reached 50th Italian height percentile). Mean height Z scores were low in both groups, but the difference was not significant. Mean weight Z scores and mean percentages of fat body mass were significantly lower (P <0.001) in group 1 than in group 2 patients. In group 2, lean body mass and fat body mass were significantly lower (P <0.05) in patients with moderate-to-severe hepatic failure than in patients with mild hepatic dysfunction. The mean energy intake was in the range of the recommended daily allowances for age but was insufficient for both groups of patients. The evidence of significant acute and chronic malnutrition confirmed the need for nutritional support, especially for younger and older children with moderate-to-severe hepatic dysfunction. We emphasize the necessity of accurate assessment of nutritional status by simple anthropometric measurements to be sure of the effects and adequacy of the nutritional intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1852-1857
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1997


  • Anthropometry
  • Childhood liver disease
  • Children
  • End-stage liver disease
  • Extrahepatic biliary atresia
  • Infants
  • Liver transplantation
  • Malnutrition
  • Nutrition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Food Science


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