Nutrition4Kids and Nutrition4IBD

My colleague and partner, Stan Cohen, along with his outstanding advisory board, have put together two terrific (free) resources for both children and adults:

Both are up-to-date, user-friendly, authoritative and attractive websites that feature advice families can trust to help them understand their disease and options to live as full a life as possible. Between the two, there are:

  • Over 700 articles
    • Nutrition4Kids Categories: Eating at different ages, Healthy lifestyle, Nutrients, Diseases and disorders and Patient experience
    • Nutrition4IBD Categories: Understanding IBD, Treatment Options, Nutrition for IBD and Patient options.
  • Over 60 videos including 35 on food allergies (including FPIES and eosinophilic disorders) and 14 on tube-feedings, including one about a lacrosse player that is quite inspirational.
  • Amazing tools:
    • A food log and a symptom diary that patients can download to record how they are doing
    • a BMI calculator
    • a table of milk alternatives (created by our nutritionist Bailey Koch)
    • a tool which provides over 150,000 food labels for restaurant and packaged foods.
    • a cool tool where a patient can indicate their age, gender, whether they’re breastfeeding or pregnant (even which trimester they’re in), and it will tell what’s in over 200,000 foods and what nutrients and calories they need.
  • Healthy recipes with their nutrient values per serving.
  • This website relies on a group of 42 contributors including many from our group, psychologists, speech-language pathologists, nurses, dietitians, and families.
  • Other practices can link to our site, so they can share our medically-curated and accurate content and tools with their patient-families.

Building a Bigger (Better?) Brain in Premature Infants

A recent retrospective study (PE van Beek et al. J Pediatr 2020; 223: 57-63. Increase in Brain Volumes after Implementation of a Nutrition Regimen in Infants Born Extremely Preterm) with 178 infants (median gestational age 26.6 weeks) found that a modification in the nutritional regimen resulted in improved brain volumes.

Key findings:

  • In cohort B (new regimen), mean protein and caloric intake were 3.4 g/kg/d & 109 kcal/kg/day which were significantly  increased compared to Cohort A: 2.7 g/kg/d and 104 kcal/kg/d for first 28 days of life.
  • At 30 weeks gestational age, 22 brain regions were significantly large in cohort B compared with cohort A, though at term age equivalence, only the caudate nucleus remained significantly larger.
  • key limitation: brain MRI can only be performed in relatively stable neonates; thus, sicker infants may be underrepresented.

My view: Optimizing nutrition as early as possible is likely to help improve cognitive outcomes.

Related blog posts:

Other nutrition-related articles in this issue:

DL Harris et al. J Pediatr 2020; 223: 34-41. Glucose Profiles in Healthy Term Infants in the First 5 Days: The Glucose in Well Babies (GLOW) Study

  • In term infants, plasma glucose concentrations of 47 mg/dL (2.6 mmol/L) approximated the 10th percentile in the first 48 hours, and 39% of infants had ≥1 episode below this threshold.
  •  The mean glucose concentrations increased over the first 18 hours, remained stable to 48 hours (59 ± 11 mg/dL; 3.3 ± 0.6 mmol/L)] before increasing to a new plateau by the fourth day (89 ± 13 mg/dL; 4.6 ± 0.7 mmol/L).

WG Sharp et al. J Pediatr 2020; 223: 73-80. Intensive Multidisciplinary Intervention for Young Children with Feeding Tube Dependence and Chronic Food Refusal: An Electronic Health Record Review  Congratulations to my colleagues at the Marcus Center for this work, particularly Valerie Volkert who has worked with so many of our kids and Barbara McElhanon who has been so helpful.  83 patients with complex medical-behavioral-developmental problems met study criteria.  Key finding:  58 patients (72%) weaned from tube feeding at follow-up.

From Pitt Street Bridge Park, Mount Pleasant, SC


Nutrition ‘Mythbuster’ Webinar

A recent Children’s Healthcare Webinar by Hillary Bashaw reviewed several nutrition topics.  I took some notes and some screenshots.  Some errors of omission and transcription may have occurred.

Key points from talk:

  • Cow’s milk overall is a healthy beverage for children, though there are several plant-based alternatives that can be effective substitutes.  Soy milk and pea-protein milk are often the best alternatives.
  • Fiber from foods is the best way to get fiber.  Gummy fiber products are not recommended.
  • Eating breakfast likely helps with school performance; however, this does not mean it is the ‘most important’ meal of the day.

Related article: RJ Merritt et al. JPGN 2020; 71: 276–81. Full text link: NASPGHAN Position Paper: Plant-based Milks

  • One of the slides from this talk modifies the Table 1 (adds skim milk) from this article.
  • Milk‘s contribution to the protein intake of young children is especially important. For almond or rice milk, an 8 oz serving provides only about 2% or 8%, respectively, of the protein equivalent found in a serving of CM.”
  • “As presently constituted, almond, rice, coconut, hemp, flax seed, and cashew “milks” are inappropriate replacements for CM in toddlers and young children for whom milk remains an important part of the diet.”

Milkrelated blog posts:


Fiberrelated blog posts:


Breakfast-related blog posts:


Online Aspen Webinar (Part 6) -NAFLD and NASH

Aspen Online Webinar July  14-16, 2020

Below I’ve included some of my notes and slides.  There may be errors of omission or transcription.

What’s Hot? NAFLD and NASH Stavra Xanthakos

  • Fatty liver disease burden of NAFLD and NASH is increasing.  This increases the rate of cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver transplantation; the latter is being needed at younger ages
  • Explained that “Lean” (normal BMI) NAFLD is common
  • Diabetes is strongest risk factor for severe fatty liver disease (NASH or fibrosis). PNPLA3 is genetic risk factor for NAFLD risk.
  • Discussed treatment, particularly diet  and bariatric surgery.  Stated that some emerging treatments look promising.
  • In those with suspected NAFLD, Dr. Xanthokos recommends liver biopsy, if lifestyle therapy is ineffective, under specific circumstances: prior to bariatric surgery, in some cases to determine severity, and prior to instituting therapy (eg Vitamin E)


Related blog posts:

Probiotics in Preemies: Lifesaving Therapy

Lots of studies have indicated that probiotics may be beneficial in premature newborns; the problem is that there are currently no FDA-approved probiotics for preterm infants. The use of probiotics as a non-regulated FDA product leads to the potential risk of contamination due to inconsistent quality control as well as variability in the strains and concentrations.  The risks are not inconsequential as there has been a report of 29-week infant who died from mucormycosis due to probiotic contamination with mold.

Despite the potential problems with probiotics in this population, their usage is increasing as described in a recent multicenter retrospective cohort study (KD Gray et al. J Pediatr 2020; 222: 59-64) which took place between 1997-2016 with 78,076 infants (23-29 weeks gestational age) in 289 NICUs.

Key findings

  • 3626 (4.6%) received probiotics
  • Probiotic use increased over the study period (>10% in 2015 & 2016)
  • By matching 2178 infants who received probiotics with 33,807 without probiotics, the authors determined that those received probiotics had a decrease likelihood of necrotizing enterocolitis (OR 0.62) and death (OR 0.52).  The authors observed an increase in Candida infection (OR 2.23); though, this is an infrequent infection and the absolute difference in risk was <1%
  • Limitations: “similar to many previous studies, there was great variation in probiotic products and organisms, as well as a lack of dosing information, which made it unclear which product, organism, or dose might be most effective.”  Also, other contributing factors like consumption of breastmilk and antibiotic exposure are not detailed in this report.

My take: Probiotics could be life-saving for premature infants. It would be nice if we could find out which strains work and which ones do not as well as to assure safe manufacturing processes.

Related blog posts:

ACG Review (Zobair Younassi, MD): NAFLD and NASH

For PDF copy of slides: NAFLD and NASH

Dr. Zobair Younassi gave a recent virtual grand rounds –here are some of the slides:


Natural History:

  • Progression of disease is not linear
  • Fatty liver disease is a multisystem disorder.  Cardiovascular disease is leading cause of death in patients with fatty liver disease
  • Fatigue (~50%) is common with fatty liver disease

Main treatment:

  • Weight loss -Mediterranean diet may be helpful
  • Exercise
  • No FDA-approved treatments, though pioglitizone supported by AASLD for biopsy-proven NASH
  • Public health interventions are needed

Short Gut Diet -CHOA Approach

Recently Kipp Ellsworth, with input from members of the nutritional team, developed our first institutional Short Gut Diet.

Per Kipp, this diet is “designed to facilitate digestion while minimizing abdominal pain and ostomy/stool output in our inpatients with truncated intestinal anatomy.  Previously, clinicians ordered a regular diet for our short gut patients, with parents and nurses providing oversight of the ordering process based on their knowledge of short gut diet precepts.  Obviously this non-standardized approach resulted in significant noncompliance, another onerous daily task for nursing, and a failure of inpatient short gut diet principles reinforcement.  I anticipate the new diet serving as an omnipresent education tool, reinforcing short gut diet precepts for patients and parents during their inpatient stays.”

Related blog posts:

Nutritional Risks in Adolescents After Bariatric Surgery; Prevention of Childhood Obesity; Convalescent Serum for COVID-19

S Xanthakos et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2020; 18: 1070-81. Full Text: Nutritional Risks in Adolescents After Bariatric Surgery

This was a multicenter prospective cohort study with 226 adolescents (mean age 16.5 years, mean BMI of 52.7) who had either Roux-en-Y bypass (RYGB, n=161) or vertical sleeve gastrectomy (VSG, n=67).

Key findings:

  • At 5 years, 59% of RYGB and 27% of VSG had ≥2 nutritional deficiencies
  • The most prevalent abnormality we observed was hypoferritinemia, which affected nearly twice as many RYGB recipients by Year 5 compared with VSG.
  • Vitamin B12 status likewise worsened disproportionately after RYGB, despite similar trajectories of weight loss after VSG
  • Image below shows the prevalence of abnormal values for vitamins over time

My take: This study shows that adolescents undergoing VSG had fewer nutritional deficiencies than RYGB and provides data supporting nutritional monitoring after bariatric surgery.

B Koletzko et al. JPGN 2020 70: 702-10. Full Text: Prevention of Childhood Obesity: A Position Paper of the Global Federation of International Societies of Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition (FISPGHAN)

Related blog posts (Bariatric Surgery):

Related blog posts (Obesity):


Not Curing Obesity with Fecal Microbiota Transplantation & More on Remdesivir

A recent pilot (n=22) double-blind study (JR Allegrett et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2020; 18: 855-63) pours cold water on the idea that repopulating one’s microbiome would be helpful in treating obesity.

In this study, the authors examined obese patients without diabetes, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, or metabolic syndrome.  In the treatment group, patients received FMT by capsules: 30 capsules at week 4 and then a maintenance dose of 12 capsules at week 8.  All FMT was derived from a single lean donor.

Key findings:

  • There were no significant changes in mean BMI at week 12 in either group.
  • Patients in the FMT group had sustained shifts in microbiomes associated with obesity toward those of the donor (P<.001).  In addition, bile acid profiles became more similar to the donor.

My take: Though this was a small study, it suggests that changing the microbiome by itself is likely insufficient to result in significant weight loss.

Related blog posts:

JH Beigel et al. NEJM DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa2007764 (May 22, 2020): Full text: Remdesivir for the Treatment of Covid-19 — Preliminary Report

This was a a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial of intravenous remdesivir in adults hospitalized with Covid-19 with evidence of lower respiratory tract involvement (n=1063).

Key findings:

  • Faster recovery for remdesivir recipients: 11 days vs 15 days
  • Lower mortality rate: 7.1% with remdesivir and 11.9% with placebo (hazard ratio for death, 0.70, 95% CI, 0.47 to 1.04) (mortality difference did not reach statistical significance)



Celiac Studies -Increasing Prevalence (Italy) and Nonadherence Risks

S Gatti et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2020; 18: 596-603.   The authors screened 4570 children (5-11 year olds) from 2015-16; this study included 80% of eligible children from two metropolitan areas in Italy.

Key findings:

  • 77 cases of children met diagnostic criteria for celiac disease (54 met criteria and 23 prior known cases)
  • Prevalence in this population, overall, was 1.58% (2015-16); in 1993-95, the adjusted prevalence was 0.88%
  • Celiac disease autoimmunity was noted in 96 .
  • 1960 (43%) had celiac disease associated haplotypes

A Myleus et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2020; 18: 562-73.  In this systematic review, 49 studies (out of initial 703) were included in final analysis to determine risk factors and outcomes with nonadherence to treatment with gluten free diet.

Key findings:

  • Large range of adherence rates: 23% to 98% (median rates were 75-87%).
  • Adolescents were at increased risk of non-adherence
  • Children whose parents had good knowledge had higher adherence rates
  • There was not improved adherence over time, despite improvement in palatable gluten-free foods.

One of the other findings in the study was the lack of consensus about what defines strict adherence and how to measure it.

My take: The first study is in agreement with many others which have demonstrated higher prevalence of celiac disease now compared to previously.  The second study shows that adherence with treatment is highly variable and difficult to measure.

Related blog posts:

Screenshot (797)

UNC Campus Pic (Chapel Hill)