Many studies have shown that lung function is better in individuals with cystic fibrosis when they are well nourished. Good nutrition begins at birth, continues throughout the lifespan and is important at all ages.
-Rachel Freeman, MSc, RD “Nutrition and Cystic Fibrosis”
A healthy diet is an important building block of well-being, and we contribute to it every day. This is especially true for babies with CF.
Among our resources, we have a thorough nutrition guide written by dietary health professionals available for download here: The Canadian Guide to Nutrition and Cystic Fibrosis. The guide contains useful information for people living with CF of all ages, but is especially useful for new parents who are navigating the CF diet, which many of us know presents a learning curve. Here are some highlights:
The Need for More Calories
Individuals with cystic fibrosis may need between 10% and 50% more calories than people without cystic fibrosis. This is because of poor digestion and absorption, the work of breathing and coughing, and lung infections.
Why Are Enzymes Needed?
In the healthy body, digestion takes place with the help of bile from the liver and enzymes from the pancreas. In most people with cystic fibrosis—including babies— the tubes in the pancreas are blocked with the same type of sticky mucus found in the lungs. Most individuals with cystic fibrosis need to take pancreatic enzyme capsules to help with the digestion of food.
For a more thorough look at enzymes for infants, check out pages 27-30 of The Canadian Guide to Nutrition and Cystic Fibrosis.
Preventing Dehydration in CF Babies
Dehydration in infants and children often occurs due to diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and extreme hot weather. The signs and symptoms of dehydration vary with its severity. Common signs may include headache, vomiting, fatigue and dry mouth, among others.
How can Dehydration be Prevented?
Dehydration may be prevented by using an oral electrolyte solution such as Pedialyte®, Enfalyte®, or Rehydralyte® during these times, or by supplementing the breast milk with salt.
We have a great 1-page “cheat sheet” on identifying and preventing dehydration in CF babies. Find it here!