A new study has found that the use of oral nutritional supplements provided to pediatric patients during hospitalization was associated with a decrease in length of stay of 14.8 percent and a decrease in hospital stay costs of $1,768 per patient. The study, conducted by leading researchers at the University of Southern California, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Precision Health Economics, and supported by Abbott, was presented at the 2013 North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (NASPGHAN) Annual Meeting in Chicago.

The 11-year retrospective study (2000-2010) was analyzed using the Premier Research Database, which contains data on more than half a million hospitalized pediatric cases for patients aged 2 to 8 years. This study is the latest in health economics and outcomes research to illustrate the impact of oral nutrition supplement use in hospitalized patients.

"Malnutrition in children is associated with poor health outcomes and this is especially important in the hospitalized child," said Maria Mascarenhas, MD, associate professor of pediatrics at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "Nutritional support is a critical component of the clinical management for pediatric inpatients, but it is often overlooked due to other medical issues."

In the study, investigators were able to determine differences in length of stay and cost of care by comparing hospital stays in which oral nutritional supplements were prescribed to hospital stays of similar conditions where oral nutritional supplements weren't prescribed.

Oral nutritional supplements are dietary food, often in liquid form, that provide protein, nutrients and calories for added nutrition and energy in one's diet.

"While other studies have examined the use of nutritional supplements in adults, prior to this study there weren't any that rigorously quantified the impact of oral nutritional supplements on health economic outcomes in the general pediatric population," said Darius Lakdawalla, Ph.D., University of Southern California. "These results suggest that nutritional solutions can be a cost-effective approach to improving pediatric patients' hospital care."

"Through its leadership in nutrition health economics and outcomes research, Abbott is demonstrating the potential that nutritional intervention can have for the health of children and adult patients, and the cost savings for hospitals," said Robert H. Miller, Ph.D., divisional vice president, Global Research &Development and Scientific Affairs for Abbott Nutrition. "This is important in the midst of the changing healthcare landscape as hospitals seek effective interventions to help improve patient quality of care and reduce overall costs."

About the Study

The "Impact of Oral Nutrition Supplements on Hospital Outcomes in Pediatric Patients" study is an 11-year retrospective data analysis assessing the effect of oral nutritional supplement use on inpatient length of stay and hospital stay cost in hospitalized children.

The study compared hospital stays where oral nutritional supplements were provided with similar hospital stays that did not provide oral nutritional supplements. The difference in the two groups between length of hospital stay and the cost of treatment were measured.

Length of stay was defined as the number of days of direct patient care (minimum of one day) from admission to discharge. Hospital stay cost was defined as the actual costs to treat the patient during the hospitalization.

The retrospective analysis utilized information from more than half a million pediatric hospitalizations found in the Premier Research Database from 2000-2010, which represents a total of 46 million hospital stays at 460 hospitals across the U.S., or approximately 20 percent of all inpatient admissions in the U.S.

The full sample consisted of 557,348 inpatient admissions of pediatric patients aged 2 years to 8 years and focused on oral feeding interventions only. The matched sample (of patients receiving oral nutritional supplementation and patients who did not receive oral nutritional supplementation, based on socio-demographic and health characteristics) included 11,031 total hospital stays. In addition to propensity score matching, instrumental variables regression analysis was performed to minimize bias.