How do Dietary Supplements help children with cancer?

Childhood cancer is curable when a child is physically healthy to take treatment. But in India, with up to 40% of children with cancer being severely malnourished at diagnosis, survival is a problem. When a child undergoes treatment (chemotherapy), he faces further malnutrition. Accompanied by the side effects of chemotherapy, meeting the right nutritional requirements is always a challenge; putting the child at a higher risk of malnutrition. 

Dietary supplements are a great way to add extra nutrients to a child’s diet as well as make the food palatable.

So what are Dietary Supplements?

Dietary supplements are additional food products that help meet the nutrient requirements of an individual when a regular diet is unable to do so. Although they are readily available over the counter, one should always take supplements after consultation from a Doctor or a Clinical Nutritionist. Supplements come in the form of pills, capsules or even powders that can be added to your everyday food items. 

Our Nutritionists prescribe a range of supplements to children with cancer depending on the child’s nutritional status and symptoms. These include Pediagold, Pediasure, Pentasure, Essential and Threptin, amongst others.

One scoop of supplements added to the child’s glass of milk every day helps boost calories as well as protein content in his diet. 

The supplement prescription is customised to a child’s nutritional needs and medical condition. And, helps the child cope with treatment. A caregiver can also be qualified to administer supplements to a child after a couple of sessions with a trained Nutritionist. 

There are many instances where supplements have proven to be very useful in improving the nutritional status of a child. For example, a 14-year-old boy child from Uttar Pradesh had to undergo treatment for Lymphoma at one of our partner hospitals, TATA Memorial Hospital (TMH), Mumbai and he had difficulty in eating and swallowing, which resulted in inadequate oral intake. 

Nikisha, our Nutritionist at TMH, says, “He was severely malnourished when he first came here. He could not be admitted because of COVID-19 and was treated at the OPD. We administered supplements via tube feeding for one month, after which he was able to consume small quantities of food orally. At the end of three months, he could consume food orally without much problem, and he put on 5 kgs!”

When 4-year-old Deep wasn’t able to meet his daily nutritional requirements, supplements helped nourish him so he could withstand his chemotherapy dosage. “During chemotherapy, Deep was not eating rice or dal due to side effects of the treatment; he was only taking the supplements as per the Nutritionist’s advice. It helped him cope with the disease,” says Dipika Sardar, Deep’s mother.

Supplements are vital to children undergoing chemotherapy. Your support helps us provide supplements to many such children, making sure they have the strength to fight cancer and get better soon. Donate, to support children fighting cancer with nutritional support during their treatment. Feed a Child. Starve Cancer.

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