Clinical nutrition

Long-term use of tube feeding in children with cystic fibrosis: results from two Belgian CF centers



Enteral tube feeding (ETF) is often used in an attempt to optimize the nutritional status. The aim of this study was to observe the long term effect of ETF and to compare the start of ETF with the current European guidelines on nutrition care in CF.


From all patients who received ETF (ETFp) between February 2000 and September 2016 in the Ghent University Hospital (GUH) or Brussels University Hospital (BUH), z-scores for body weight (W), height (H), growth velocity (GV) and BMI, FEV1%, and FVC% were retrospectively collected from the patients’ medical record, 3 years before and 5 years after the year of ETF initiation. Gender, age, and pancreatic status matched controls were selected from the GUH database.


All baseline (T0) measurements in ETFp were worse compared to controls. Only 11% of the controls had a Hz < −1.6 compared 58% of the ETFp. After the initiation of ETF a rapid weight gain was noted until the second year (T + 2:−1.9 (−2.8; −1.0) vs. T0:−2.7 (−3.2; −2.1) (p = 0.01) with a stabilization afterwards. A rapid GVz increase was noted at T + 1:1.0 (−0.8; 1.9) vs. T0:−1.5 (−2.0;−0.3). After the start of ETF until T + 3, a stabilization of FEV1% was noted. However, compared to controls, it remained significantly lower (p < 0.05).


ETF as a nutritional intervention has its effect on weight, height, GV, and BMI. To our knowledge this is the first study that describes the evolution of growth in ETFp. The effect on GV argues for a faster introduction of ETF in malnourished children with CF.

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Fig. 1: Evolution of median height z-score (Hz) and growth velocity z-score (GVz) over the 8 year study period for patients and controls.
Fig. 2: Evolution of forced expired volume in 1 s (FEV1) and forced vital capacity (FVC) in the control and the patient group over a study period of 8 years.


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DD, KH, and SVB were responsible for the design of the study. DD, KH, and HB were responsible for collecting the data from the two different CF Centers. The statistics were performed by DD and KH. All authors interpreted the results and suggestions were made to report the results. All authors contributed to the draft and revised the manuscript. All authors approved the final version and agreed for submission.

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Correspondence to D. Declercq.

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Declercq, D., Huysentruyt, K., Hauser, B. et al. Long-term use of tube feeding in children with cystic fibrosis: results from two Belgian CF centers. Eur J Clin Nutr (2020).

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