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Feeding difficulties in young paediatric intensive care survivors: A scoping review

Morton, K., Marino, L.V., Pappachan, J.V., Darlington, A.S.
Clinical nutrition ESPEN 2019 v.30 pp. 1-9
Internet, caregivers, children, chronic diseases, databases, family relations, gestational age, health care workers, health services, infants, parents, risk factors
Although feeding difficulties are commonly described amongst children with chronic diseases, those admitted to a paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) represent a mix of previously healthy children as well as those with pre-existing diseases. There is, however, a lack of evidence describing the prevalence and type of feeding difficulties amongst healthy children who survive a period of critical illness and the subsequent impact on growth and family life. The aim of this work was to complete a scoping review of evidence describing feeding difficulties amongst PICU-survivors.Six electronic databases were searched from January 2000–October 2018. NICE Healthcare Databases Advanced Search website ( was used as a tool to complete multiple searches within multiple databases, including the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), PsycInfo and Medline. Any studies considering feeding difficulties amongst previously healthy children following discharge from PICU or those which explored the parental/caregiver experiences were included.As the initial search yielded only one study which fulfilled the inclusion criteria, the criteria was extended to include studies relating to feeding difficulties (post-discharge) amongst otherwise healthy ex-preterm infants (born < 37 weeks gestational age) and infants/children with chronic diseases where feeding difficulties were described following a PICU admission. A review team screened and extracted the data of published qualitative and quantitative studies, using content analysis techniques. Of the 9622 articles identified from the searches, 22 full-text studies were reviewed with seven studies included. Four overarching categories represented the results: prevalence of feeding difficulties; risk factors and predictors for developing feeding difficulties; parental/carer experience and emotional response to feeding difficulties; and challenges in accessing feeding support.The results of this scoping review suggest there are gaps in the research, particularly those exploring the prevalence of feeding difficulties amongst previously healthy children and the negative impact this may have on family life. Future research should focus on addressing the extent of the problem and identifying risk factors, in addition to the potential development of toolkits for health care professionals to better support parents.