As the parent of a child that is terminally or chronically ill, there are many facets of your child’s care that can, at times, seem overwhelming. From daily medication regimen, to diagnostic studies to therapy and even surgery, it is important to understand what the basis for each procedure is and why your child requires it.
One such test, known as prealbumin testing, is commonly performed among chronically or terminally ill children. As a protein that is a critical indicator of health and nutritional status, many children undergo prealbumin testing, twice per week.
While prealbumin may not be directly affected or connected to your child’s illness, testing for prealbumin can provide your child’s physician with a clear picture into your child’s nutritional status. Often, with illness comes indication of malnutrition and visa versa.
When a child experiences a relatively high level of prealbumin, your physician, when detected early, can begin the necessary steps to bring equilibrium to your child’s nutritional status, often reducing the number of days in hospitalization by nearly three-fourths or reducing the number of required office visits.
Prealbumin is considered a key component of testing for terminally ill and chronically ill children. In terms of accuracy, the only factor, in children, that may provide false-positive results is the deficiency of zinc in the diet. However, all other vitamin deficiencies do not impact the results of the prealbumin testing.
To test for prealbumin, your child will need to have blood drawn, by a licensed phlebotomist, and tested for prealbumin levels. While albumin levels may also be provided in the test results, the prealbumin provides the clearer indicator into your child’s nutrition.
If the prealbumin test results show that your terminally ill or chronically ill child is suffering from a large complication of malnutrition, it is not uncommon for hospital admission to be recommended for the purpose of administering nutrients by IV. AT home, the physician may recommend that your child utilize nutritional supplements, such as Ensure, to boost protein and caloric intake, and then re-test for prealbumin levels the following week.
As with any diagnostic study or testing performed on terminally ill or chronically ill children, it is important, as parents, that you understand the dynamic of the complication and how it may impact your child’s overall health. For many parents, the drawing of a child’s blood, twice weekly, is often met with great surprise, even confusion as to why the test is being performed. When considering the tests your child needs, be certain the healthcare professional is testing for prealbumin levels so as to monitor your child’s nutritional status overall.