Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Outcome of nutritional screening in the acute paediatric setting
  1. P C Thomas1,
  2. L V Marino2,
  3. S A Williams1,
  4. R M Beattie1
  1. 1Child Health, Southampton Children's Hospital, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Southampton, UK
  2. 2Department of Dietetics/SLT, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Southampton, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor R M Beattie, Southampton Children's Hospital, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Southampton S016 6YD, UK; mark.beattie{at}


Introduction Multiple nutritional risk assessment tools are available, but there are limited data on their application in the acute setting. We explored the validity of two tools in a tertiary Children's Hospital's acute unit and the cohort's nutritional status using WHO definitions.

Methods Prospective study n=300 (median 38 months; 44.6% female; 25.7% ≤12 months). Participants had standard anthropometry measured, all were screened using the Screening Tool for the Assessment of Malnutrition in Paediatrics (STAMP), the Paediatric Malnutrition Screening Tool (PMST) (modified STAMP) and 125 were additionally screened using the Paediatric Yorkhill Malnutrition Screening (PYMS) tool.

Results The percentages with medium/high nutritional risk were as follows: STAMP 73.1%, PMST 79.3% and PYMS 30%. Height/weight were normally distributed with: 3.4% stunted (height-for-age z-score <−2); aged ≤ 5 years, 6.8% wasted (weight-for-height z-score (WHZ) <−2), 17.9% overweight (WHZ 1–2) and 6.2% obese (WHZ >2); aged >5 years, 5.8% thin (body mass index (BMI)-z-score (BAZ) <−2), 17.3% overweight (BAZ 1–2) and 5.8% obese (BAZ >2). The tools showed poor specificity and variable sensitivities when compared with WHO malnutrition criteria, with positive predictive values of <50%. κ-Analysis also showed poor agreement between the tools and the WHO cut-offs.

Conclusion These results suggest that nutritional screening tools have poor sensitivity and are difficult to interpret in the acute setting. It may be more effective to include the assessment of weight and height and nutritional intake in the context of the acute presentation as part of routine clinical assessment rather than relying on screening tools to identify those at risk.

  • nutrition risk
  • malnutrition
  • screening tools

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Contributors PCT, RMB, SAW and LVM participated in the design of the study. PCT carried out the data collection. PCT and LVM completed the data and statistical analyses and drafted the manuscript. All authors edited, read and approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding PCT was funded by the UK National Institute of Health Academic Foundation Programme. LVM funded by NIHR Health Education England (Wessex) Post Doctoral Fellowship.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.