Nutrition and dietetics (children and young people)

The dietetic team aims to support patients who, due to the side effects of the diagnosis or treatment of their cancer, are at risk of malnutrition.

Many of the methods used to treat cancer can have both short and long-term side effects such as poor appetite, fatigue, taste changes, dry mouth, mucositis, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, increased appetite and alerted blood sugar levels, which in turn can lead to a change in nutritional status.

It is particularly important for children and young people to maintain their nutritional status during and beyond treatment to ensure that their growth and development are maintained. In addition to this, patients who are well nourished tend to spend less time in hospital, have an improved immune function and tend to receive a greater total amount of treatment.

Eating and drinking play a huge role in an individual's health and wellbeing. It is the role of the dietetic team to ensure that as far as possible this vital part of everyday life is maintained and adapted to suit the individual.

Referral criteria for the dietetic service:

  • Any child with a greater than 10% weight loss
  • Any child who has fallen more than one centile line
  • Any child who is likely to be NBM for more than five days
  • Any child with bowel obstruction
  • All children having a stem cell transplant or high-dose treatment
  • All children unable to eat due to uncontrolled nausea, diarrhoea, mucositis or taste changes
  • All children about to start Headstart, PACKER or Milan protocols
  • Children with excessive weight gain on steroids or secondary to endocrine changes, e.g craniopharyngioma

The dietetic service provides support to both inpatients and outpatients and is able to provide advice on the following:

  • Food fortification and suitable food choices to aid weight gain
  • Dietary changes with taste changes
  • Healthy eating for normal growth
  • Food safety during neutropenia
  • Diet for steroid induced diabetes
  • Soft / liquid diet for mucositis or swallowing difficulties
  • Suitable food choices with nausea or diarrhoea
  • Safe use of oral nutritional supplements
  • Alternative and complementary diet advice
  • Anthropometric monitoring
  • Dietary changes with GvHD
  • Calculation of estimated nutritional requirements to ensure individualised feeding regimens provided
  • Formulation of individualised feeding regimens, taking into account both nutritional requirements and family routines
  • Teaching for parents and young people on the use of home enteral feeding equipment
  • Enteral tube care, support with checking tube positions, monitoring stoma sites and tube maintenance
  • Provision of feeding equipment for home