A UK and Irish survey of enteral nutrition practices in paediatric intensive care units

Lyvonne Tume*, Bernie Carter, Lynne Latten

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

28 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of the present study was to describe the present knowledge of healthcare professionals and the practices surrounding enteral feeding in the UK and Irish paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) and propose recommendations for practice and research. A cross-sectional (thirty-four item) survey was sent to all PICU listed in the Paediatric Intensive Care Audit Network (PICANET) database (http://www.picanet.org.uk) in November 2010. The overall PICU response rate was 90 % (27/30 PICU; 108 individual responses in total). The overall breakdown of the professional groups was 59 % nursing staff (most were children's nurses), 27 % medical staff, 13 % dietitians and 1 % physician assistants. Most units (96 %) had some written guidance (although brief and generic) on enteral nutrition (EN); 85 % of staff, across all professional groups (P= 0·672), thought that guidelines helped to improve energy delivery in the PICU. Factors contributing to reduced energy delivery included: fluid-restrictive policies (60 %), the child just being 'too ill' to feed (17 %), surgical post-operative orders (16 %), nursing staff being too slow in starting feeds (7 %), frequent procedures requiring fasting (7 %) and haemodynamic instability (7 %). What constituted an 'acceptable' level of gastric residual volume (GRV) varied markedly across respondents, but GRV featured prominently in the decision to both stop EN and to determine feed tolerance and was similar for all professional groups. There was considerable variation across respondents about which procedures required fasting and the duration of this fasting. The present survey has highlighted the variability of the present enteral feeding practices across the UK and Ireland, particularly with regard to the use of GRV and fasting for procedures. The present study highlights a number of recommendations for both practice and research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1304-1322
Number of pages19
JournalBritish Journal of Nutrition
Issue number7
Early online date1 Aug 2012
Publication statusPublished - 14 Apr 2013


  • Enteral feeding
  • Intensive care
  • Paediatric nutrition
  • Surveys

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