Enteral nutrition and cardiovascular medications in the pediatric intensive care unit
Enteral nutrition has multiple benefits for critically ill patients. However, the administration of enteral nutrition to patients requiring medications for cardiovascular support is controversial secondary to concerns of altered splanchnic perfusion. The objective of this study is to evaluate the tolerance of enteral nutrition in pediatric patients receiving cardiovascular medications.
This was a retrospective chart review of patients admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston in a 1-year period. Patients were eligible for the study if they received enteral nutrition during or within 24 hours of requiring continuous infusion of dopamine, dobutamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine, or neosynephrine.
Fifty-five admissions (52 patients) met study criteria. Patients ranged in age from 1 month to 20 years old. Although a large number (71%) of patients experienced at least 1 feeding interruption, the majority (70%) of reasons cited for stopping or slowing feedings were not related to gastrointestinal (GI) tolerance. Only 29% of patients had feedings held for perceived intolerance. Vomiting was the most often-cited reason for these interruptions. Constipation was reported in 36% of patients but cited only 4 times as a reason for feeding interruption. Four patients exhibited evidence of GI bleeding. This bleeding was considered clinically insignificant in 2 patients and appeared unrelated to enteral feedings in the others.
This study suggests that many pediatric patients receiving cardiovascular medications tolerate enteral nutrition without adverse events. Further prospective studies are needed to determine whether enteral nutrition can consistently benefit these critically ill pediatric patients.
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