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Keywords:

  • amino acids;
  • enteral feeding;
  • liver disease;
  • liver transplant;
  • malnutrition

Abstract

Pre-operative nutritional support was studied in 28 children with end-stage liver disease awaiting orthotopic liver transplantation. Nasogastric supplemental administration of a standard semi-elemental enteral nutritional formula was compared with a similar formula enriched with branched chain amino acids, and with a group receiving oral nutrition only. The duration of treatment in all groups was similar (mean 90 days). Energy intakes in the supplemented groups were 120–150% of recommended daily intakes (RDI), whereas ad libitum intakes in the oral group ranged 58–100% RDI. A significant improvement in mean Z-score for body weight (denoting catch-up) was noted only in those children who received nasogastric supplements enriched with branched-chain amino acids. The standard enterally-fed group maintained their body weight and Z-scores did not change significantly. In contrast, body weight Z-scores in those fed orally declined significantly. Nutritional supportive therapy of malnourished children with end-stage liver disease can minimize or improve nutritional status in children awaiting liver transplantation. The use of nutritional formulae rich in branched-chain amino acids may have nutritional advantages in children with chronic liver disease which require further study and evaluation.