The effect of increased nutritional intake was evaluated in 5 growth-retarded children with sickle-cell disease. Growth on recommended daily calorie and protein intakes had been inadequate in all 5. Fat absorption and intestinal mucosal morphology were normal in all 5.2 children were given nutritional supplementation by nasogastric intubation, 1 received nightly oral formula supplements, and 2 were supplemented with zinc, iron, folate, and vitamin E only. Nutritional supplementation by the nasogastric route produced a rapid sustained increase in growth rate, associated with striking reductions in pain crises and infections which had previously necessitated many hospital admissions. Oral supplementation improved the clinical course but had no effect on growth rate. Mineral and vitamin supplements influenced neither the growth rate nor the clinical course. The observations indicate that nasogastric nutritional supplementation may accelerate growth and reduce the incidence and severity of complications in growth-retarded children with sickle-cell disease.
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