Growth Failure and Nutrition Considerations in Chronic Childhood Wasting Diseases

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Abstract

Growth failure is a common problem in many children with chronic diseases. This article is an overview of the most common causes of growth failure/growth retardation that affect children with a number of chronic diseases. We also briefly review the nutrition considerations and treatment goals. Growth failure is multifactorial in children with chronic conditions, including patients with cystic fibrosis, chronic kidney disease, chronic liver disease, congenital heart disease, human immunodeficiency virus, inflammatory bowel disease, short bowel syndrome, and muscular dystrophies. Important contributory factors to growth failure include increased energy needs, increased energy loss, malabsorption, decreased energy intake, anorexia, pain, vomiting, intestinal obstruction, and inflammatory cytokines. Various metabolic and pathologic abnormalities that are characteristic of chronic diseases further lead to significant malnutrition and growth failure. In addition to treating disease-specific abnormalities, treatment should address the energy and protein deficits, including vitamin and mineral supplements to correct deficiencies, correct metabolic and endocrinologic abnormalities, and include long-term monitoring of weight and growth. Individualized, age-appropriate nutrition intervention will minimize the malnutrition and growth failure seen in children with chronic diseases. (Nutr Clin Pract. 2015;30:227–238)

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