Cardiac GI Nutrition Program

We understand parents can be overwhelmed when their child is diagnosed with a cardiac condition, especially when they may have unique needs to help them grow. At CHOC, we offer pediatric cardiac nutrition services to make sure our children grow up healthy and strong, so childhood doesn’t have to be put on pause. Your child’s cardiologist will determine if your child qualifies for this clinic, and, if appropriate, place a referral.

The CHOC Cardiac GI Nutrition Program focuses on optimizing growth for high-risk infants and children diagnosed with congenital heart defects (CHD) by:

  • Assessment of calorie and protein intake
  • Adjustments of formula, diet and feeding regimen
  • Management of reflux, feeding tolerance and motility-related disorders
  • Decreasing feeding-related visits to the cardiologist and emergency department
  • Shortening hospital stays after surgery
  • Determining if other means of enteral nutrition (for example, gastrostomy and nasogastric tubes) is needed to help optimize weight gain
  • Decreasing dependency on tube-feedings and improving oral feeding skills

What does the Cardiac GI Nutrition Program treat?

  • Feeding problems
  • Formula intolerance or changes
  • Malnutrition
  • Poor growth
  • Specialty diets for conditions such as chylothorax
  • Reflux
  • Feeding tube dependence (for example, gastrostomy and nasogastric tubes)

Boy with strong arms

A Multidisciplinary Approach

At CHOC, our unique partnership with Gastroenterology (GI) doctors, dietitians and feeding therapists make this one-of-a-kind program. We are one of the only programs in the country to offer this type of service. We closely work with our families via secure text-messages and email to ensure you and your child receive answers to your questions in a timely manner. Our multidisciplinary team includes:
  • Cardiologists and Cardiac Nurse Practitioners
  • Case managers
  • Dietitians
  • Feeding therapists
  • Gastroenterologists

What to Expect During A Visit

  • A cardiac dietitian will always be a part of the visit. If your child is having a challenge with oral feeding, we will ask the feeding specialist to join the visit.
  • If your child is receiving care by a GI specialist, we will schedule the appointment on our “team” day so the cardiac dietitian and GI specialist can work together to provide the care your child needs.