Eating difficulties

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The vast majority of children undergoing stem cell transplants require intravenous nutrition during their convalescence. Some centers will feed children using tubes inserted through the nose into the stomach or small intestine. Various factors can contribute to feeding problems. These include pre-existing nutritional problems, side effects of conditioning chemotherapy, nausea and vomiting, mouth sores, and infections of the gastrointestinal tract. Your child may experience a few, some, or all of these problems before engraftment occurs. Most transplant centers initiate intravenous nutrition promptly after transplant and continue until your childs appetite and ability to take in adequate calories by mouth have returned.

Your child may require prophylactic ulcer medications to coat the lining of the stomach or to decrease the amount of stomach acid produced. Nausea may persist for a long time after completion of the conditioning chemotherapy. Ask to speak to the transplant unit dietician and keep accurate records of your childs eating. As with mucositis, your childs ability to eat and drink more normally is closely correlated with the recovery of blood counts.

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