How prevalent is feeding intolerance in patients with neurological disorders?
It is common for children with developmental delays to be dependent upon enteral nutrition. Various feeding challenges are often encountered in clinical practice, including vomiting, constipation, diarrhoea and reflux 1-4, and the inability for a patient to reach nutritionally adequate feeding volumes. The presence of gastrointestinal dysmotility, vomiting and gastro-oesophageal reflux is well documented in children with neurological disorders 2,3.
In adults, enteral tube feeding intolerance is estimated to affect between 33-38% of hospitalised patients 5, 6 and may have implications for clinical outcome 5, 6and quality of life. However, there is comparably little data pertaining to feeding intolerance specifically in adults with neurological disorders.
A retrospective audit of patients with long-term neurological disorders however showed that 28% of adult patients (17/60) with neurological disorders had documented evidence of intolerance to enteral feeding, which was not attributable to infection or other diagnoses. 7
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