Clinical guidelines and tools for nutrition

Our screening tools can help you decide if your patient is at risk of malnutrition and may need to see a dietitian.

Children who are malnourished have a higher risk of:

  • infection
  • development or growth delays
  • longer hospital stays.

Poor nutrition is also linked to an increased risk of death in children.

The tools have been validated against the Paediatric Subjective Global Nutrition Assessment (SGNA). Learn more about SGNA on the Science Direct website.

Paediatric nutrition screening tool (PNST)

The paediatric nutrition screening tool (PNST) is for infants, children and young people under 16 who are in hospital.

We recommend you use it if your patient is staying in hospital for more than 24 hours.

The PNST is a quick assessment with 4 yes or no questions that identify if your patient needs a nutritional assessment or dietary support.

Who should use it

  • Nurses at the point of admission
  • Health professionals
  • Nutrition specialists and assistants

How to use it

Download and fill in the printable PNST form. If you need help using the form, download the PNST instructions for use.

Read how we developed the screening tool on the Wiley website.

Paediatric nutrition rescreening tool (PNRT)

The paediatric nutrition rescreening tool (PNRT) is a supporting process for the PNST.

It's for patients under 16 who are staying in hospital for 7 days or more.

We've designed it to identify if a patient's nutritional intake is getting worse while they're in hospital.

Who should use it

  • Nurses or doctors caring for inpatients
  • Nutrition specialists and assistants

How to use it

To use the PNRT check your patient's nutritional status every 7 days and ask if your patient has:

  • reduced their nutritional intake, including eating or drinking less
  • lost any weight.

If you answer yes to either question, refer your patient for a full nutritional assessment.

Read the PNRT journal article on the Science Direct website to learn more.

Cerebral palsy feeding and nutrition screening tool (FNST)

The cerebral palsy feeding and nutrition screening tool (FNST) is for children and young people, 2 to 19 years old who have cerebral palsy.

You can use it to assess your child's feeding habits when they are at home.

It has 4 questions to help you identify if your child has any long-term difficulties eating, drinking or with weight gain.

It also assesses if your child might benefit from seeing a dietitian or speech pathologist for nutrition or feeding issues.

Read how we developed the cerebral palsy screening tool on the National Library of Medicine website.

Who should use it

  • Parents or carers

How to use it

Download and fill in the cerebral palsy FNST form. If your child scores 3 or 4, talk to your GP or health professional for more help.

The FNST is only to help identify long-term feeding issues. Don't use it if your child is very sick or needs emergency care.

Learn more about childhood nutrition

Research has found 15% of paediatric inpatients are malnourished. Learn more about the prevalence of malnutrition, obesity and nutritional risk on the National Library of Medicine website.

You can also find more guidelines and tools on Queensland Health’s Nutrition Education Materials Online (NEMO) website.

Contact us

If you have questions about the screening tools, or you need to refer your patient, get in touch with our dietetics and food services team.

Last updated: September 2023