Continuous Versus Intermittent Nutrition in Pediatric Intensive Care Patients: Protocol for a Randomized Controlled Trial

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Background: Intermittent fasting is a time-restricted feeding strategy with proven health benefits, which is based on multiple metabolic and endocrine changes, in several patient populations and healthy participants. In the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU), artificial feeding is usually administered 24 hours a day, although solid evidence supporting this practice is lacking. This discards the potential benefits of fasting in this population. We hypothesize that intermittent nutrition with a focus on an overnight feeding interruption (intermittent fasting), as compared with 24-hour continuous nutrition, is a feasible and safe strategy, with potential benefits, for critically ill children. Objective: The aim of the Continuous versus Intermittent Nutrition in Pediatric Intensive Care randomized controlled trial (RCT) is to investigate a strategy of intermittent nutrition with a focus on an overnight feeding interruption period versus 24-hour nutrition during the first 14 days in the PICU. Methods: The Continuous versus Intermittent Nutrition in Pediatric Intensive Care study is an investigator-initiated RCT in a tertiary referral PICU. Critically ill children (term newborn to 18 years), expected to stay in the PICU for ≥48 hours, and dependent on artificial nutrition, are eligible for inclusion. This study will randomize critically ill children (n=140) to a continuous versus intermittent nutrition strategy. In both groups, similar daily caloric targets will be prescribed. In the continuous group (control), nutrition will be administered 24 hours a day, with a maximum interruption period of 2 hours. In the intermittent group (intervention), nutrition will be interrupted during an age-dependent overnight fasting period. The study intervention will last until admission day 14, initiation of oral intake, or discharge from the PICU, whichever comes first. The primary outcome is the difference in ketosis between the groups under the condition of noninferiority regarding caloric intake. Secondary outcomes are feeding intolerance; the proportion of severe and resistant hypoglycemic events and severe gastrointestinal complications; and additional observed effects on nutritional intake, circadian rhythm, and clinically relevant outcome measures of the intermittent feeding strategy compared with continuous nutrition. Results: The study was approved by the Dutch national ethical review board in February 2020. The first patient was enrolled on May 19, 2020. By May 2022, a total of 132 patients had been included in the study. Recruitment of the last patient is expected in Q3 2022. Conclusions: Although intermittent fasting has been proven to have many health benefits in both animal and human studies, the feasibility and safety of this strategy in a PICU setting must be investigated. This RCT will help physicians gain more insight into the feasibility, safety, and potential clinical effects of intermittent feeding with overnight fasting in critically ill children.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere36229
Pages (from-to)e36229
JournalJMIR Research Protocols
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by a research fellowship awarded to RDE by the European Society of Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism and by the Sophia Research Foundation (S19-33). The StatStrip ketonemeters, the test strips and technical support will be provided by Nova Biomedical Corporation. Funders had or will have no role or authority in the study design, writing of the report, or decision to publish. The authors would like to thank Ellen van Deutekom, Joke Dunk, and Mirjam van de Polder for their contribution to the practical implementation of the study.

Publisher Copyright:
©Karlien Veldscholte, Arnout B G Cramer, Rogier C J de Jonge, Renate D Eveleens, Koenraad F M Joosten, Sascha C A T Verbruggen.


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