Each child is different, and your team at the Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital Center for Digestive Health and Nutrition will design a plan to meet your child’s specific needs. The goal of every treatment plan is to make sure your child receives proper nutrition.
Your child’s treatment may include:
- A special diet plan. Your child’s plan will be tailored to his or her needs and will likely include high-calorie foods with important vitamins and minerals and the right amounts of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Small, frequent feedings often work best.
- Vitamin and mineral supplements. Your child will need supplements to make sure he or she is getting enough vitamins and minerals, such as folic acid, iron and vitamin B12. Children who use total parenteral nutrition (supplying essential nutrients directly into the veins) can have these supplements through an injection.
- Medications. Your team may prescribe medications to help prevent diarrhea, to decrease stomach acid or to slow the passage of food through the intestine. The longer food stays in the intestine, the more nutrients are absorbed. Your child may also take other medicines, depending on his or her needs.
- Enteral nutrition. Some children with short bowel syndrome can’t eat normally, so they have liquid food delivered directly to their stomach through a small, soft tube threaded through the nose or mouth. In some cases, the tube is inserted directly into the stomach through an incision in the abdomen.
- Total parenteral nutrition (TPN). For children who can’t absorb enough nutrients from food, TPN delivers a special formula containing fluids, nutrients, vitamins, minerals and electrolytes directly through a vein.
- Oral rehydration. Special drinks can prevent dehydration, particularly in children who use total parenteral nutrition.
- Surgery. Surgery may be used to correct an enlarged section of intestine, to prevent blockages or to slow the passage of food through the intestine.
- Intestinal transplantation. If other treatments have failed, your team may recommend an intestinal transplant. With this procedure, the diseased or damaged intestine is removed and replaced with healthy intestine from a deceased donor. In some cases, the liver is transplanted along with the intestine. Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children is one of just a few centers nationwide offering this procedure.
In some children who have had part of their intestine surgically removed, the remaining intestine undergoes changes that increase the surface area. This is called intestinal adaptation, and eventually, it can help the child absorb more nutrients from food.