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Tuesday 02 April 2024

Southampton recruits 1,000th child to national study

New research is helping to inform how critically ill children should be fed in hospital.

Over a thousand children who have spent time in intensive care have joined the GASTRIC-PICU study. The milestone 1,000th patient is from University Hospital Southampton (UHS), which is one of the highest recruiting sites.

The study is co-led by Edgehill University and Great Ormond Street Hospital. It is funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR).

Trialling a new approach

It is common practice in paediatric intensive care to measure children’s stomach contents before feeding. The process involves using a syringe to remove whatever feed or fluid is already in the stomach.

This can help prevent children vomiting or breathing milk into the lungs – but may also lead to the unnecessary stopping of feeds.

This study will explore whether not routinely measuring the child’s stomach contents during feeding is safe and beneficial. Researchers will consider if this impacts the amount of time a child spends on a breathing machine and their calorie intake.

The lead investigator for the study in Southampton is Dr John Pappachan. He is a consultant in anaesthetics and paediatric intensive care medicine at UHS and part of the NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre. Dr Pappachan said:

“Previous research has shown children in intensive care often receive less than half the calories they need, which can impact their recovery.

“We’re pleased to be part of this vital study to help find the best feeding practices for critically ill children. Congratulations to everyone involved for reaching this significant milestone.”

National research

The study aims to recruit 4,700 children between 37 weeks and 17 years of age. It is currently running at 16 sites across the UK.

Children in the study will be randomly assigned to two groups. One half will not have their stomach contents routinely measured. The other half will, therefore receiving the usual care that they would outside of the study.

Find out more about the GASTRIC-PICU study here.