Objective: We aimed to determine the risk of malnutrition in hospitalized pediatric patients by using the STRONGkids screening tool.

Methods: This was a cross-sectional study in which 350 consecutive pediatric patients were admitted to inpatient clinics. STRONGkids screening tool was used for the assessment of the risk of malnutrition. Data on age, sex, body weight, height, admission diagnosis, and the length of hospital stay were recorded. STRONGkids scores, standard deviation (SD) Z-scores of height-for-age and body mass index (BMI)-for-age were calculated for each participant.

Results: It is found that 37.7% of patients have high risk, 50.9% have moderate risk, and 11.4% have low risk of being malnourished. It is detected that 13.7% of patients have chronic malnutrition and 16.9% have acute malnutrition. The acute malnutrition of the patient group with high risk of becoming malnourished is significantly higher than those in the moderate- and low risk groups (p<0.05). The average length of hospitalization in high risk group (14.9±14.8 days) is relatively higher than that of low risk group (8.3±7.3 days) (p<0.05). No significant association was found between age and gender variables and malnutrition (p>0.05). The risk of malnutrition is higher among patients with respiratory failure, cancer, and burn injuries than other disease groups (p<0.05).

Conclusion: In order to prevent protein-energy malnutrition, it is important to assess the nutritional status of patients at the time of their hospital admission. STRONGkids is a highly practical, an easy-to-use, and a reliable screening tool for the assessment of risk of malnutrition.

Keywords: Malnutrition, Screening Tool for Risk of Impaired Nutritional Status and Growth (STRONGkids)