11 month old with heart murmur

My daughter was born with a small case of vsd, she has a heart murmur. Her cardiologist is very optimistic as to the hole closing spontaneously. I am, however, concerned about her thinness. She is 11 months old and is a very tall girl, she is almost in the highest percentile on the height chart but on the 10th percentile for weight.

She weighs about 18-19 pounds and seems pretty healthy. Her development is good; she started walking and we are thrilled. Would you be able to give me suggestions on nutrition for her case? What would you recommend? I am very conscious about what I feed her and she gets plenty of fresh foods.

Her cardiologist said that children with this type of murmur have a tendency to be thin. It is not as much the thinness that bothers me; I just want her to have the best chances to beat this spontaneously, without surgical intervention later on in life.


Sue Gilbert

Sue Gilbert works as a consulting nutritionist. For many years she worked with Earth's Best Organic Baby Food, integrating nutrition and... Read more

A healthy diet won't guarantee your daughter won't have to face surgery. What is not caused by diet cannot usually be fixed by diet. However, keeping her in the best nutritional health will help her come through any surgery or illness better. Proper nutrition may also help prevent her from becoming sick because it will help keep her immune system strong.

Without knowing your daughter's typical diet it is difficult for me to make recommendations. Because you are so conscientious, my guess is your daughter is already eating very well. There are a few general suggestions I can make that will perhaps help.

Because of your daughter's age and thinness, you will want to be sure to keep the fat level in her diet high. That means lots of calorie dense foods like whole milk, cheese, eggs, peanut butter or other nut butters, oils used in baking and cooking, avocados, olives, dressings on her salad, butter on her vegetables, spreads on her bread and toast.

Continue to serve her fresh foods since they offer more nutrition than highly processed foods. Fresh vegetables and fruits prepared to her ability to handle them (soft cooked or pureed, or very ripe and soft to chew) are good for a source of vitamins and minerals.

It is important to be sure she gets plenty of iron in her diet, either from iron rich or iron fortified foods, or from supplemental iron drops prescribed by your pediatrician. Instant baby cereals served with a vitamin C rich fruit is a good way to be sure she gets her daily requirement. Iron is important to prevent anemia and for proper brain and nerve development, particularly at her age.

Restrict her intake of juices, which tend to fill up without providing much nutrition. Serve plenty of whole milk yogurt. It is a good immune system booster, plus provides fat, protein and calcium.

If you would like to further your own knowledge of children's nutrition so that you can apply it to your daughter's diet, purchase a copy of "The Yale Guide to Children's Nutrition". It is a good reference book, plus has some healthful and yummy recipes in the back.

I wish you good health, and best wishes that your hopes for a spontaneous recovery are realized.


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