I want to say Happy National Nutrition Month and Thank you to the dietitians working with children with PFD with a special shout out to the RD’s working on the UNC Pediatric Feeding Team!
This is a guest post from my colleague Lisa Richardson, MS, RD, LDN. Lisa and I wrote the nutrition chapter in the revised edition of The Pediatric Feeding and Swallowing Disorders Source Book (pro-ed).
March is the 50th anniversary of National Nutrition Month®, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. This year’s theme “Fuel for the Future” certainly applies to children.
Growing bodies certainly need nutrients, but approaching food as fuel can be tough for families with a child experiencing a pediatric feeding disorder (PFD). Nutritional dysfunction in the form of specific restricted intake of one or more nutrients including a nutrient deficiency is a core diagnostic feature for a PFD. In other words, insufficient dietary intake is the starting point.
Unfortunately, analysis of large population-based studies, specifically the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) makes it clear that some nutrients are likely of concern for most US children, not just those experiencing PFDs.
For example, an analysis of NHANES data from 2001 – 2016 showed that many children had intakes below estimated needs for vitamin D, vitamin E, and calcium. Moreover, as children grew their intakes shifted, particularly for calcium. While only 3.6% of children aged 1– 3 had low intakes, 30.4% of children from ages 4 – 6 did. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) has also identified calcium as nutrient of public health concern.
The Healthy Eating Index is used by the DGA American to measure diet quality and consistency with DGA recommendations. As shown in this infographic, Health Eating Index Scores for children are highest between ages 2 and 4 and consistently decline through childhood and adolescence.
Fueling for the Future is important for all American children and essential for children experiencing PFDs. Partnership between registered dietitians and feeding therapists is natural in the pursuit of helping a child improve feeding skills. In future posts, I’ll get into details of how to enhance and apply your nutrition knowledge in practice.
Lisa Richardson MS, RD, LDN