Nutrition of patients with severe neurologic impairment
Introduction: Commercial enteral formulas are generally recommended for gastrostomy feeding in patients with severe neurologic impairment. However, pureed food diets are still widely used and even gaining popularity among certain groups. We tried to compare the effectiveness of gastrostomy feeding for treatment of severe malnutrition with either enteral formulas or pureed feeds.
Materials and methods: A 6-month nutritional intervention was made with 37 malnourished children, adolescents and young adults (2-26 years old) with severe neurologic impairment (GMFCS grade V). The individual needs were calculated. Participants were fed by gastrostomy with either enteral formulas (n = 17) or pureed food (n = 20). Measurements to assess nutritional status were made at the beginning and at the end of intervention.
Results: The Z scores for weight-for-age and for the body-mass index increased more in enteral formula than in pureed food group (2.07 vs. 0.70, p = 0.0012; and 3.75 vs. 0.63, p = 0.0014, respectively). Fat mass index increased more in enteral formula than in pureed food group (1.12 kg/m2 vs. 0.38 kg/m2; p = 0.0012). Patients in the enteral formula group showed increase in lean body mass expressed as fat-free mass index (0.70 kg/m2), while those in pureed food group did not (-0.06 kg/m2) (p = 0.0487).
Discussion: The results suggest that even professionally planned pureed food diet is less effective than commercial enteral formula for nutritional rehabilitation of malnourished patients with severe neurologic impairment. However, larger and if possible randomised clinical studies should be made to confirm our findings.
Key words: malnutrition, severe neurologic impairment, gastrostomy, enteral formula, pureed food