Nutrition and Dietetics
Our dietetics service supports children by offering practical dietary advice or nutrition support to help improve their management of a specific health condition.
Dietitians at Alder Hey work across many different departments and services, as well as with the catering team to provide special diets for inpatients.
When a child or young person is referred to us we will:
- Assess the need for dietary management
- Check height, weight and other measures of growth and nutritional status
- Plan the correct feed or diet based on our assessment
- Explain the dietary treatment in a way that is understandable and manageable
- Monitor the child’s progress and advise on changes when needed
- Keep all the healthcare professionals involved up to date about dietary changes
When should a child see a dietitian?
There are a wide variety of diseases and conditions that may be helped by referral to a dietitian. Some of the reasons include:
- Poor weight gain and growth
- Higher than normal requirement for food and nutrition
- Conditions which cause poor digestion of food
- Conditions requiring changes to food intake, for example diabetes, food allergies, coeliac disease and inherited metabolic diseases
- Children who have difficulties eating and drinking food and will require tube feeding
- Children who need intravenous feeding
Food and dietary information for families
You will find clear advice and ideas about what to give children to eat, at all ages and stages on the Food Standards Agency website www.eatwell.gov.uk
I am confused about what age to start giving my baby solid food?
The current Department of Health advice is to introduce solid food from 6 months. There are lots of sources of help and advice, including your health visitor, local children’s centres and online help at www.nhs.uk/start4life
My GP has told me my child is overweight. Can you help?
We are sorry that we are unable to see children who are overweight but there are many people who can help you. Most local areas will be running projects to help children and their families lose weight. Depending on where you live there are different community based services you can access.
- Liverpool – Healthy Families programme. Call 0151 295 3055 and also https://www.merseycare.nhs.uk/our-services/physical-health-services/healthy-families/
- Sefton – Active Lifestyles team
0151 934 2352
- Knowsley – Family Futures ask your GP for a referral to the programme
- You can also find help and advice at www.nhs.uk/change4life and also www.mendprogramme.org
How do I become a Dietitian?
There are two ways to qualify as a registered dietitian:
- Completion of a relevant degree
- Completion of a post graduate qualification
Where can I go for more help with...?
- Food allergies: support and advice from Allergy UK.
- Coeliac disease – support and advice from Coeliac UK
- Cystic fibrosis – support and advide from CF Trust
- Diabetes – support and advice from Diabetes UK and the JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation)
- Child Liver Disease - support and advice from Children's Liver Disease Foundation
- Artificial Nutrition - support and advice from Patients on Intraveneous & Nastrogastic Nutrition Therapy
- PKU (Phenylketonuria) – support and advice from the National Society of PKU
- Metabolic disease – support and advice from Climb
- Ketogenic diets – support and advice from Matthew's Friends
Special Feeds Unit
The special feeds unit (SFU) is an integral part of the dietetic department, responsible for the safe preparation of specialised infant formulas and enteral feeds to exacting standards of accuracy, in an environment that is clean and meets the requirements of the food standards act. The SFU should only be used for the preparation of specialised infant formulas and enteral feeds. Where possible sterile, ready to feed products will be provided for patient use.
Requests for specialised infant formulas and enteral feeds should be ordered through order entry section of Meditech.
The feeds unit is open 365 days a year.
- 8am – 4pm, Monday to Friday
- 8am - 2pm, weekends and Bank Holidays
Information for professionals: Referrals
We currently accept referrals for children under the care of an Alder Hey Consultant. Patients can be referred by letter or Meditech. Referrals must include the following:
- Length or height
- Head circumference if under 2 years
- Relevant clinical details
- Reason for referral
We are unable to accept referrals for common childhood nutritional problems as these are more correctly dealt with by the primary care team. These include iron deficiency, obesity and constipation.
We are unable to accept referrals from GPs. GP referrals should be made to the local community paediatric dietitians. Your local PCT should be able to direct you to appropriate services.
Services in the Community
What we do
The Community Children's Dietetic Service in Sefton provides up to date information and guidance about childhood nutritional matters to children, carers, professionals in contact with children, and a variety of patient support groups.
The service supports children who require a special diet, and their carers. They ensure nutritional needs are met and adjusted for growth and disease progression.
Hoghton Street Clinic
52 Hoghton Street
Hours of service
Monday to Friday 8.30am - 4pm
Referrals to the service can be received from any Health or Social Care Practitioner for 0-16 year olds living in the Sefton area.