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Screening Tool To STAMP out Under-Nutrition

Pictured during a break from the STAMP training are (L-R): Rebekah McKelvey, Nutrition student; Linda Irwin, Paediatric Specialist Dietitian; Dr Helen McCarthy, Lecturer in Dietetics, University of Ulster and Honorary Paediatric Research Dietitian; Gary McIlroy, Abbott Rep; Melanie Elliott, Nurse Education Consultant; Sister Michelle Bryson, Children’s Ward Manager

A University of Ulster researcher is leading the way in children’s nutrition with the development of a nutrition screening tool for children.

In a joint initiative with the Western Health and Social Care Trust Dr Helen McCarthy from Ulster’s Biomedical Sciences Research Institute is leading a team who, in collaboration with nurses and dietitians from Altnagelvin Hospital, are making good nutrition a priority for all young people admitted to the hospital.

The Screening Tool for the Assessment of Malnutrition in Paediatrics (STAMP) is a quick, simple and reliable way of identifying children who have poor nutrition when they are admitted to hospital. STAMP was developed at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital in a project led by Dr Helen McCarthy from the University of Ulster. STAMP was launched in 2008 as the first validated nutrition screening tool for children in the UK.

Research has shown that up to one in five children admitted to hospital are at risk of under-nutrition and this can have a negative effect on their response to treatment and recovery from illness.

In a joint initiative with the Western Health and Social Care Trust Dr Helen McCarthy from the Biomedical Sciences Research Institute is leading a team who, in collaboration with nurses and dietitans from Altnagelvin Hospital, are making good nutrition a priority for all young people admitted to the hospital.

Dr McCarthy said: “These developments show the commitment to quality patient care that is core to the children’s team at Altnagelvin. The importance of nutrition screening cannot be under-estimated as early identification of children who are at risk of under-nutrition allows for earlier treatment and improved outcomes for the the child and the hospital. Commitment to addressing this issue is a massive step forward for medical care in this country.”

STAMP has been introduced to a number of hospitals across the UK but the team at Altnagelvin Hospital are the first to introduce it in Northern Ireland.

Western Trust Head of Paediatric Services Mary McKenna said: “Good nutrition is important for health and growth in children, and even more so when they are unwell and admitted to hospital. We are delighted that the commitment and innovation of our Children’s Ward staff and Dietetics staff has resulted in the Western Trust leading Northern Ireland to introduce this tool which will significantly contribute to the health and recovery of patients.”