Nutrition

The diet of children with Cystic Fibrosis is about 150 percent higher than a normal diet, so proper nutrition is a key focal point of our team at the Cystic Fibrosis Center at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital.

 

Nutrition is a key component in the overall health of children with cystic fibrosis. Children with CF need extra calories and a high fat diet to sustain a healthy weight for growth, maximize lung capacity, build muscle strength for breathing and support the immune system. 

Calorie intake is at about 150 percent of a normal diet. There is also difficulty with absorption of fats and fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K), so supplementation of these vitamins is often necessary. 

Enzymes are often taken with each meal and snack to help break down the fats and absorb the calories from fat. Many cystic fibrosis children are pancreatic insufficient, therefore lacking the enzymes to help break down food. Monitoring stools that appear greasy, malodorous or bulky give key indications about the way the body is digesting food and nutrients.

Ways to help maintain a healthy diet and weight include:

  • High calorie supplemental drinks
  • High-fat diet
  • Duocal added to food
  • Medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) oil
  • Salt supplementation
  • Vitamin supplementation
  • Our dietician will assist you in making the healthiest choices that are best for your child.

FAQs:

What dietary requirements does my child need?

Cystic Fibrosis patients typically need up to twice the amount of daily calories as others who are of similar age and weight. To gain weight, you will need to take in about an extra 500 calories a day. Learn more about nutrition basics.

What is a G-tube?

A gastrostomy tube (also called a G-tube) is inserted through the abdomen that delivers nutrition to the stomach. The technique is one of the ways doctors can make sure kids get the fluid and calories they need. Learn More.

What are enzymes used for?

Enzymes are vital for life as they serve a wide range of functions in the body, including aiding in digestion and metabolism. Learn More.

What vitamins does my child need?

In addition to eating a good diet, Cystic Fibrosis patients may have to take vitamin supplements to get the extra nutrients. Learn More.

What kind of diet does my child require?

Here are helpful tips on maintaing a good cystic fibrosis diet.

Contact: Jennifer Blair, dietician: 727-767-3385.