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Boletín médico del Hospital Infantil de México

versión impresa ISSN 1665-1146


DAMASCO-AVILA, Erika et al. Feeding difficulties and eating disorders in pediatric patients with cancer. Bol. Med. Hosp. Infant. Mex. [online]. 2019, vol.76, n.3, pp.113-119. ISSN 1665-1146.


Feeding difficulties and disorders are a common problem in the pediatric population, which involve a series of deficient behaviors about nutrition processes that can adversely affect psychomotor, psychosocial, and physical development of children. This study aimed to describe the frequency of feeding difficulties or disorders in pediatric patients with cancer.


A prospective study which included 125 children from 1-19 years treated at the Department of Oncology of the Instituto Nacional de Pediatría, Mexico City, was conducted. The diagnosis of eating disorders and feeding difficulties was determined during the first 48 h since admission, and the age of the patient influenced the type of disorder and feeding difficulties.


Children older than 11 years presented more frequently an intense resistance of feeding because of discomfort pain (fear of feeding) than younger children (11.4 ± 4.7 vs. 7.4 ± 4.9, p ≤ 0.001). The most frequent alteration associated with malnutrition was loss of appetite (odds ratio [OR]: 8.8, confidence interval [CI] 95% 2.9-26.9, p<0.001), followed by fear of feeding (OR: 3.14, CI 95% 1.24-7.9, p=0.015), and the organic causes showed the highest risk for malnutrition (OR: 3.1, CI 95% 0.98-9.7, p=0.054).


Over 90% of the studied population demonstrated at least one eating disorder or feeding difficulty. The principal effect is inadequate nutritional intake due to limited appetite and fear of feeding, which can result in undernutrition. For this reason, the identification of alterations in nutrition processes should be part of the comprehensive assessment of cancer patients.

Palabras llave : difficulties; Eating disorders; Children with cancer; Malnutrition.

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