Feeding Tubes for All – Advancing Feeding Tube Technology for Our Tiniest PatientsPublished by Avanos on Mon, 2019-01-07 00:00
Feeding a child may seem like a simple task, but mealtimes can be challenging for parents and caregivers whose children are living with serious medical conditions. Tube feeding is a necessary alternative for children who are unable to ingest food orally due to a chronic illness. The Feeding Tube Awareness Foundation estimates that approximately 20 percent of children under the age of 18 are tube fed, and there are more than 350 conditions that can require children to need nutritional support through tube feeding. Chronic conditions will present different challenges in children, but they all have one thing in common – they are not able to consume the appropriate amount of nutrition their bodies need to function.
The medical community continues to emphasize the important role nutrition plays in producing positive outcomes. Good nutrition can support a child's growth and development, or in some cases improve their recovery and response to treatments. Tube feeding can be a lifesaving medical intervention for children with complex needs.
When a child is referred for enteral feeding, it’s important for parents and caregivers to partner with their physician to identify the tube that will best fit the child’s nutritional, medical and lifestyle needs. Tube feeding is a lifestyle adjustment for both the child and the parent, and there are a variety of available options. The gastrostomy (G) tube is the most common feeding tube for pediatric patients. G-tubes are surgically placed through the abdominal wall as a means of accessing the stomach to provide nourishment, hydration, and medication. Standard G-tubes are longer and protrude from the child’s body. The excess tube can lead to unnecessary mishaps. By accident or intention, children are likelier to tug at or dislodge their feeding tube. When the tube falls out, time is of the essence. The tiny surgical hole in the skin can begin to heal within just a few hours, making delayed re-insertion a painful and, in repeat cases, a costly experience.
Parents are already overwhelmed from managing their child’s condition. It’s difficult to create a new sense of normalcy when medical complications are compounded by feeding tube mishaps. In an effort to avoid these mishaps, advanced low-profile enteral feeding tubes are gaining in popularity. Low-profile feeding tubes sit on the surface of the skin, mitigating some of the common challenges associated with traditional feeding tubes. The benefits of low-profile tubes include:
- Ease of concealing the tube under clothing,
- Less chance of dislodgement, and
- Increased patient comfort and mobility
Regardless of the medical condition, tube feeding can ensure children with chronic conditions receive all the nutrients they need to thrive. Although it initially can be overwhelming, finding the right feeding tube ensures the child’s comfort, safety, and nutritional health, while allowing parents to nourish the moments that matter most to them and their child.