OBJECTIVES: In children hospitalized for bronchiolitis, enteral nutrition (EN) practices during noninvasive ventilation (NIV) vary widely. We sought to assess the potential impact of EN by observing changes in physiometric indices (heart rate [HR] and respiratory rate [RR]) before and after EN initiation.

METHODS: We performed a retrospective cohort study in children <2 years of age hospitalized for bronchiolitis receiving NIV from 2017 to 2019 in a quaternary ICU. The primary outcome was patient HR and RR before and after EN initiation. Descriptive data included demographics, anthropometrics, comorbidities, NIV parameters, EN characteristics, and general hospital outcomes. Analyses included paired comparative and descriptive statistics.

RESULTS: Of the 124 children studied, 85 (69%) were permitted EN at a median of 12 (interquartile range [IQR]: 7 to 29) hours. The route was oral (76.5%), nasogastric (15.3%), or postpyloric (8.2%) and was predominantly started during high-flow nasal cannula (71%) at flow rates of 1 (IQR: 0.7 to 1.4) L/kg per minute. After EN initiation, reductions in the median RR (percentage change: −11 [IQR: −23 to 3]; P < .01) and HR (percentage change: −5 [IQR: −12 to 1]; P < .01) were noted. Those permitted EN were younger (5 [IQR: 2 to 11] vs 11 [IQR: 3 to 17] months; P < .01) and more likely to have bronchopulmonary dysplasia (19% vs 5%; P = .04). Malnutrition rates, comorbidities, admission timing, flow rates, length of stay, and NIV duration did not differ for those provided or not provided EN. No aspiration events were observed.

CONCLUSIONS: Reductions between pre- and postprandial RR after EN initiation among children hospitalized for bronchiolitis on NIV were observed without clinically significant aspiration. These findings support existing data that suggest that EN is safe during NIV and may lessen distress in some patients.

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