Good nutrition is important for achieving normal growth and development. Therefore, nutritional evaluations should be an integral part of care for youths. Nutritional assessment is an in-depth evaluation of an individual's food and nutrient intake, lifestyle, and medical history. Once the data is collected, the doctor can assess the nutritional status of the pediatric patient's response to illness. Dietary information in a nutritional assessment can be affected by a variety of factors, including physical, environmental and social influences. Nutrient intake, developmental appropriateness of foods offered, and social and environmental influences are evaluated in this portion of the assessment. Behaviors around food and eating should be examined as well.
A complete nutritional assessment of a child’s nutritional status will include a medical history, nutritional history, dietary intake, physical examination, pubertal staging, skeletal maturity staging, and biochemical tests of nutritional status. Age, gender, and disease-specific growth charts will become an essential factor in assessing nutritional status. Medical conditions that may alter intake and/or growth should be considered in the assessment. Possible drug-nutrient interactions should be evaluated.
Growth is a key component of nutritional status and an indicator of health and well-being for every aspect of a child’s health. Growth in children is usually steady and predictable, however, to ensure proper growth and development, an evaluation will reflect any abnormalities. Anthropometric indicators such as weight, stature, and skinfold measurements will provide information about a child's physical growth. Growth is divided into four periods which encompass changes in body composition as well as maturational milestones: