Swedish First Hill has removed fruit juice from its routine pediatric menu, and it believes it may be the first in the state — and even the country — to do so. The change is aimed to make hospital stays healthier for their youngest patients, as fruit juice contains high levels of fructose that can be harmful. In the most extreme cases, excessive fructose intake can build up excessive fat in the liver, much like alcohol abuse. Just an eight-ounce glass of orange juice contains the sugar from five-and-a-half oranges, minus the essential fibers of whole fruits that protect the liver from damage.
Swedish pediatric gastroenterologist Dr. Uma Pisharody suggested the change earlier this year after one of her patients was given fruit juice after undergoing anesthesia for a liver biopsy due to excessive fructose intake.
“This was ironic,” she said. “I was advising patients to stop drinking juice and it continued to be served in the health care setting.”
She recommended cutting juice from the menu to the hospital’s Pediatric Quality Improvement Committee, which strongly recommended the hospital — where the majority of Swedish’s pediatric care is provided — put the practice into action. Juice is still available, but only by request.
Swedish plans to expand the practice of removing juice from the routine pediatric menu at each of its five campuses, and there is no data available that suggests other hospitals or health systems in the country have taken similar steps of cutting juice.
This is another way hospitals in Washington State are on the forefront of making care safer and healthier for patients. Click here to read more in a recent news story from KUOW.