BACKGROUND: Although weight loss and lack of linear growth occur in children with cancer, growth history is not included in research that aims to determine nutritional status in children newly diagnosed with cancer. Therefore, this study aimed to determine weight loss and lack of linear growth in this patient group.
PROCEDURE: Weight and height were recorded in 95 children (ages 1.5-10 years) at diagnosis and compared with data predicted from growth curves. Age, gender, type of malignancy, extent of disease, and prior weight and height were tested for their potential relation to differences between actual and predicted data.
RESULTS: The incidence of undernutrition, based on z-scores for weight-for-age (WFA), height-for-age (HFA), and weight-for-height (WFH), was 2%, 4%, and 7%, respectively. Actual z-scores were lower than predicted z-scores. Differences between actual and predicted z-scores of <-0.5 standard deviation score (SDS) in WFA, HFA, or WFH were found in 25%, 23%, and 29% of the children, respectively. Children with advanced cancer had the highest risk of significant weight loss (<-0.5 SDS in WFA) (ORWFA = 3.45, P = 0.012) prior to diagnosis. Differences were unrelated to type of malignancy, age, gender, and weight and height prior to diagnosis.
CONCLUSIONS: At diagnosis, approximately 25% of the children showed a significant reduction in z-scores for weight-for-age, height-for-age, and weight-for-height. This reduction may indicate a deteriorated nutritional status. Therefore, assessment of growth history should be standard of care to ensure appropriate nutritional interventions and should be included in research that aims to evaluate nutritional status in children newly diagnosed with cancer. Pediatr Blood Cancer 2015;62:269-273. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.