Good nutrition is important for the growth and development of all children. Food consists of a number of different nutrients: protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins and minerals.
The liver plays an important role in maintaining good nutrition and growth for two main reasons:
- It converts the nutrients in the diet into energy and substances needed by the body for growth and normal body functions.
- It produces bile which helps to take in (absorb) fat from the diet in the intestine.
The bile produced by the liver helps to absorb vitamins (A, D, E and K). These are called the “fat soluble” vitamins.
Babies and children with liver disease may not be very hungry (have poor appetites) and will need more energy (calories) and protein. This is because the damaged liver cannot process nutrients effectively. This increase in requirements alongside poor food intake and reduced absorption of nutrients can lead to:
- Poor growth
- A lack of energy
- An increased risk of infection
Paying special attention to nutrition is therefore very important. You will receive specialist nutritional advice and support from your child’s dietitian at your hospital as needed.