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Children's dietetic services

Nutrition and dietetics

The paediatric (children’s) dietitian specialises in assessing nutritional requirements, food intake and growth both in times of health and disease. Individually tailored dietary advice is provided based on a child’s age, nutritional requirements, treatment and medical condition.

Who we provide a service to

  • The paediatric dietitian manages an age group from the very premature infant through infancy and childhood until adolescence, when their care is transferred to an adult service.
  • Services are provided to the Trust’s children’s and neonatal directorate both on a local and regional level.
  • Locally high standards of dietetic care are provided to all children referred from paediatricians where Addenbrooke’s is their district general hospital. This includes children with diabetes, those attending the Child Development Centre and those requiring general paediatric medical and surgical care.
  • As a regional centre for a number of paediatric specialities our paediatric dietitians also offer high level dietetic skills in neonatology, paediatric intensive care, cystic fibrosis, gastroenterology, inpatient and home parenteral nutrition, oncology, metabolic and ketogenic therapy, diabetes insulin pump therapy as well as specialist surgery.
  • Our team of paediatric dietitians is led and supported by a principle paediatric dietitian who along with advanced paediatric dietitians facilitate education, support, peer review and continuing professional development within the team, Trust and wider region.
  • Our team of paediatric dietitians is steadily increasing and there are some exciting developments planned for new services in the future including the development of services to the proposed new children’s hospital.

What our jobs entail

  • The paediatric dietitian specialises in translating individual nutritional requirements into practical dietary and feeding practices or regimens, to optimise health, growth and development within the parameters of the child’s particular condition.
  • On admission to hospital each child has their weight and height measured and undergoes nutritional screening. A detailed nutritional assessment is carried out by a paediatric dietitian as indicated either as a result of the screening process or on request from the child’s medical team.
  • During an inpatient stay, a child might require nutritional support and/or a special or therapeutic diet. This will involve assessment, advice and support from one of our team. Each child referred to our service is monitored throughout their stay by a paediatric dietitian or  a member of our paediatric dietetic assistant team, and, where appropriate, follow-up after discharge is provided either via our outpatient facility or care is transferred to a child’s local paediatric Dietitian.
  • The paediatric dietitians have a high profile within the multi-disciplinary team, both within individual paediatric specialities and on the Children's and Neonatal Units. We work closely on developing policies and procedures for use within the division and also with the Trust to ensure the provision of age appropriate, nutritious, balanced food and meal choices throughout a child’s hospital stay. We work closely with the staff in the Trust’s diet kitchen and ward based kitchen on the paediatric oncology ward to facilitate the provision of a “what and when wanted service as well as individual meals for children on highly specialised diets. A key role is also taken in the provision of special feeds and  the management of expressed or donated breast milk  within  the division’ s two milk kitchen facilities.
  • We hold up to eight paediatric dietetic-led clinics per month, and take referrals from Addenbrooke's paediatricians and their teams only. We do not provide a GP referred service at present. Referrals into these clinics include the management of faltering growth, feeding difficulties, food intolerances and allergies and iron deficiency anaemia. We also provide input into an additional 85 consultant led clinics per month for cystic fibrosis, neonatal medicine, neonatal surgery, cleft lip and palate, scoliosis, paediatric rapid referral, oncology, diabetes, gastroenterology, HPN, metabolics, renal and paediatric ketogenic therapy.

Education

The paediatric dietetic team have an ongoing commitment to teaching and education both locally, regionally and in some disciplines, a national level. Team members have access to a staged, self-directed education package based on detailed clinical tutorials and service specific competency frameworks. Education opportunities are provided to all staff within the Trust’s Children’s and Women’s services as well as linked education establishments around Cambridge.

Regionally the team acts as an essential resource in many areas of paediatric dietetics for other paediatric dietitians based across East Anglia and provide specialist education to regional and occasionally national study days on request