Nutrition & Biliary Atresia
Before your child has either one of these operations, nutrition may be a problem. With biliary atresia, not enough bile reaches the intestine to assist with the digestion of fats in the diet and so the following may occur:
- Protein deficiencies due to liver damage
- Vitamin deficiencies
Children with liver disease require more calories than a normal child because of a faster metabolism. Your physician may recommend that a pediatric nutritionist makes recommendations regarding your child's diet. Nutritional guidelines may include the following:
- Providing your child with a good, well-balanced diet
- Supplementing your child's diet with vitamins, as directed by your child's physicianMCT (medium-chain triglyceride) oil or infant formulas with MCT (Portagen® or Pregestimil®) These may be recommended to add extra calories to help your child grow. Medium-chain triglycerides are more easily digested without bile than other types of fats. MCT oil can be added to foods and liquids that your child eats.
- Providing your child with high-calorie liquid feedings, as directed by your child's physician
Some children with liver disease become too sick to eat normally. In this case, your physician may recommend that your child has liquid feedings given to help meet his/her body's requirements. These feedings are given through a tube called a nasogastric tube (NG) that is guided into the nose, down the esophagus, and into the stomach. A high-calorie liquid can be given through the tube to supplement your child's diet if he/she is able to eat only small amounts of food or to replace meals if your child is too sick to eat.
After surgery, your child's digestion may return to normal, or you may still need to give extra vitamins and/or work with your child's diet. Please consult your child's physician for recommendations.