Background: Early detection of malnutrition in hospitalized children helps reduce length of hospital stay and morbidity. A validated nutrition tool is essential to correctly identify children at risk of malnutrition or who are already malnourished. This study compared the use of the Subjective Global Nutrition Assessment (SGNA, nutrition assessment tool) and Screening Tool for the Assessment of Malnutrition in Paediatrics (STAMP, nutrition screening tool) with objective nutritional parameters to identify malnutrition in hospitalized children.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was carried out in two general paediatric wards in a public hospital. SGNA and STAMP were performed on 82 children (52 boys and 30 girls) of age 1-7 years. The scores from both methods were compared against Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics/American Society of Parental and Enteral Nutrition Consensus Statement for identification of paediatric malnutrition. The objective measurements include anthropometry (weight, height and mid-arm circumference), dietary intake and biochemical markers (C-reactive protein, total lymphocytes and serum albumin). Kappa agreement between methods, sensitivity, specificity and cross-classification were computed.
Results: SGNA and STAMP identified 45% and 79% of the children to be at risk of malnutrition, respectively. Using a compendium of objective parameters, 46% of the children were confirmed to be malnourished. The agreement between SGNA and objective measurements (k = 0.337) was stronger than between STAMP and objective measurements (k = 0.052) in evaluating the nutritional status of hospitalized children. SGNA also has a 4-fold higher specificity (70.45%) than STAMP (18.18%) in detecting children who are malnourished.
Conclusion: SGNA is a valid nutrition assessment tool in diagnosing malnutrition status among hospitalized children in Malaysia. The discrepancy in specificity values between the two methods explains the distinguished roles between SGNA and STAMP. The use of STAMP will have to be followed up with a more valid tool such as SGNA to verify the actual nutrition status of the paediatric population.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.