Having a good understanding of the six essential nutrient groups — protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, minerals
and water — and how they work together to make a
healthy diet can help to put the importance of nutrition into perspective.
Your child's nutrition — whether feeding is by mouth, by tube or a combination of the two — is key to supporting their overall health, growth and development.
For children who are recovering from illness or surgery, nutrition is a very important part for proper healing and recovery. Most children who are tube-fed have similar nutritional needs for growth and development as other children. The goal of tube-feeding is to provide complete nutrition that supports your child's growth, development and other specific needs.
There may be special considerations based on your child's medical condition, but an adequate delivery of properly balanced nutrition is key to support daily needs for growth and development of children of all ages.
What does my child need? Your child's doctor and dietitian will consider a number of different factors when making recommendations for your child's tube-feeding — from the type of formula and amount required each day to the feeding schedule.
The type of tube and its placement — nasogastric, nasojejunal, gastrostomy or jejunostomy — will also be considered in determining the amount for each feed and the frequency of feeds.
Nutrition assessment is all about keeping track of your child's health, growth and development to make sure that they are receiving adequate nutrition.
Your child's nutrition status can be assessed in a variety of ways, including:
Growth charts: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) growth charts are used to track weight and height for children aged 2 years through adolescence. Find growth charts for your child
For children under the age of 2, the World Health Organization growth standards are used. Find growth charts for children under the age of 2
Bone density test: A bone density test uses special X-rays to measure the amount (or density) of calcium and other bone minerals in a section of bone, which represents the strength of the bone. Since physical activity contributes to bone density, children who are less active or have restricted movement can be at risk for lower bone density. It is important to monitor bone density so that special measures can be taken if necessary.
Blood tests: Blood tests can be used to measure levels of different components in the blood, which can suggest a nutritional problem or deficiency. For example, serum albumin and pre-albumin are indicators of the child's calorie and protein intake.
Iron status is evaluated by measuring hemoglobin, hematocrit and red blood cells as well as is evaluated by measuring transferrin. Anemia is an indicator of iron deficiency.
Condition of skin, hair and teeth: Inadequate intake of some specific nutrients may affect the condition of skin, hair and teeth. For example, dry skin could result from a low intake of zinc, vitamin A, biotin or linoleic acid. Inadequate protein or zinc could cause hair loss.
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