Nutrition For Children With Tuberculosis

Childhood is a time of rapid growth and development. Unless adequate and optimal nutrition is provided during childhood, growth may be hampered. There is also strong link between tuberculosis and malnutrition. Hence it is important to check for tuberculosis, if a child is reported with malnutrition or underweight, in a clinic or hospital. As many as 12%-30% of children with malnutrition can be suffering with tuberculosis, hence it is important to check for tuberculosis, in all malnourished children. The rate tuberculosis can be much higher in developing countries, where tuberculosis may be endemic.ID-100204918

For optimal growth and development, as well as for optimal management of tuberculosis among children, provision of adequate balanced nutrition is very essential. The prognosis of tuberculosis treatment depends on optimal nutrition to a great extent. Children need high amount of calorie and other nutrients, but their stomach capacity is limited, which makes it necessary to plan their diet well to provide enough nutrients without overburdening their stomach. High energy foods should be selected while planning diet for children in management of tuberculosis.

Few points regarding nutrition for children should be remembered:

  • The diet should provide adequate energy (mainly from carbohydrates and fats), proteins and other essential nutrients such as vitamins and minerals and the food should also be palatable. Because unpalatable and non-tasty foods will be rejected by children.
  • Diet for children should not be based on one single food item and there is no evidence that proves that a single food item can have effect on outcome of tuberculosis treatment. Diet should be well balanced with variety of food items.
  • Pulmonary diseases such as tuberculosis, can adversely affect the amount of food intake, due to poor appetite, especially among children and run a risk of malnutrition. It is therefore important to provide frequent meals (at least 5-6 meals a day), instead of 2 or 3 large meals a day, which does not become a burden to patient.
  • Commercially available high energy and high protein foods and drinks (such as concentrated protein powder) can be used to provide high calorie requirement.
  • Multivitamins and multi-mineral supplements containing little more than recommended daily allowances (RDA) should be taken. Because a tuberculosis patient may not receive adequate vitamins and minerals through diet alone due to lack of appetite and the requirement (for vitamins and minerals) also high due to increased calorie/energy intake. Supplements should be taken after consulting your doctor only.
  • Household foods such as sugar, eggs, peanut oil, vegetable oil, milk etc. can be given to provide high calorie food.
  • Addition of at least 500 gram yogurt in daily diet can provide enough calcium and vitamin D
  • Fluid intake should be adequate. At least 2-3 liters (approximately 10-12 glasses) of water need to be taken daily
  • Several portions of fruits and vegetables need to be consumed daily for adequate supply of vitamins (especially B-complex vitamins and other water soluble vitamins such as vitamin C) and minerals.
  • General health and personal hygiene should be maintained at good level.
  • In general well balanced diet is equally essential (as that of anti-tubercular drugs) in management of tuberculosis. Hence, one should not neglect nutrition while treating tuberculosis.

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