Background & aims: Children on long-term tube-feeding often need special treatment for oral feeding transitioning. Rapid tube-weaning programs usually result in short-term reductions in food intake and weight loss. This study examined the long-term effects of a “Graz-model” based weaning program on nutritional status and growth. Methods: Children aged 0.5–13.0 years on long-term enteral nutritional support (ENS) participated in a three-week multidisciplinary weaning treatment. Data were collected at baseline, after completing the program, and at six and 12 months. Height/length, weight and BMI z-scores were determined according to the WHO growth standards. Energy and protein intake were assessed and presented as % of recommended daily allowance (RDA) values. Results: Study participants (n = 58) were 64% male. Four children did not complete the three-week program due to acute illnesses. Complete weaning (from 100% ENS to 100% oral) was achieved in 22 children and partial weaning (at least 80% reduction of ENS) in 23 children. No demographic or clinical success predictors were identified. Thirty of the 45 weaned children completed the 12-month follow-up. A significant reduction in energy intake was observed at the three-week time-point [mean (SE): 56 (5.8)% versus 80 (4.7)%, p = 0.001]. This was followed by improvements in eating skills leading to energy intake at 12 months which did not significantly differ from baseline (p = 0.392). Mean (SE) baseline protein intake was 187 (13.0) %RDA. No significant difference from baseline were noted at 12 months (p = 0.301). Estimated mean (SD) height-, weight- and BMI z-scores at baseline were −2.11(0.28), −1.48(0.25), −0.13(0.31), respectively. No significant differences in growth data were observed over time. Conclusions: Short-term reductions in nutritional intake and body weight observed after an intensive weaning program were reversible, and growth patterns were stable over 12 months. Further follow-up is recommended to ensure continued positive development in these children.
- Body weight
- Dietary intake
- Graz model
- Multidisciplinary intervention