Ten children with advanced cirrhosis and malnutrition (less than 90% weight for height) were fed for eight weeks with a nasogastric feed comprising whey protein (enriched with branched chain amino acids), fat as 34% medium chain and 66% long chain triglycerides, and glucose polymer. Six of the children were studied for an eight week control period before feeding. Weight, triceps skinfold thickness, mid-arm circumference, mid-arm muscle area, and fasting plasma ammonia and amino acid concentrations were measured before and after the control period and after the consequent feed period. Results showed that despite high energy and protein intakes the children remained malnourished over the control period. All anthropometric indices improved significantly during the feed period, and no child developed clinical encephalopathy. The feed period was associated with a small, and not clinically significant, increase in the plasma ammonia concentration, but no consistent trend in the plasma amino acid concentrations. Thus, in children with advanced hepatobiliary disease awaiting liver transplantation, enteral feeding improved nutritional status without adverse clinical or biochemical effects.
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