What is a chylothorax?
A chylothorax (say: KY-low-THOR-ax) is a build-up of fluid in the space around the lungs. The fluid, called chyle (say: kile), is a normal fluid that is made when the body digests fat. When it builds up, it puts pressure on the lungs and makes breathing more difficult.
Treating a chylothorax
The doctors often drain the extra fluid from around the lungs with a chest tube. Sometimes, that is all that is needed. But if the body keeps making too much chyle, your child may be put on a special diet. This diet will lower the amount of chyle your child’s body makes. This will help prevent a build-up from happening again.
Minimal fat diet
Your child’s doctor or dietitian will help you with the details of your child’s diet. In general, your child should avoid eating fats. The less fat in your child's diet, the less chyle the body will make.
Always read food labels
The goal of this diet is to lower the amount of fat your child eats. Read the Nutrition Facts label to find out how much fat is in the food. Choose foods that have less than 0.5 g of total fat per serving. Make sure the serving size is the same amount as your child will eat.
If the front of the food packaging says “fat-free,” it means a food has less than 0.5 g of total fat per serving. You should always check the label to be sure.
Foods your child can and cannot eat
Milk and alternatives
Dairy products such as milk and yogurt with less than 1% milk fat. Milk fat is often labelled M.F. or B.F.
Fat-free processed cheese slices
Fat-free sour cream
Fat-free cottage cheese
Fat-free cream cheese
Dairy products such as milk and yogurt with more than 1% milk fat.
Regular or low-fat cheese
Regular or low-fat cream cheese
Regular or low-fat cottage cheese
Meat and alternatives
Lean white fish, skinless chicken breast, or skinless turkey breast (1 to 2 oz per day)
Beans and legumes
Fat-free hot dogs
Tuna packed in water (2 to 3 oz per day)
Fat-free deli meats
Egg whites (if your child is older than 1 year)
Peanut butter and other nut butters
Fried and battered meats and poultry
Beef, pork, and fatty fish
Seafood such as shrimp, scallops, and lobster
Shellfish such as clams, mussels, and oysters
Bread, buns, plain bagels, and pita bread
Cereals, except granola and cereals with nuts. Choose a cereal with less than 1 g of total fat per serving.
Cheese and egg breads, buns, bagels, and croissants
Pasta stuffed with meat or cheese, such as ravioli or tortellini
Egg noodles or fried rice
Packaged noodle dishes such as Sidekicks or Mr. Noodle
Vegetables and fruit
All except avocado and olives
Fruit and vegetable juices
Apple and fruit sauces
Dried fruit bars and fruit snacks such as Fruit-to-go and Fruit Roll-ups
Pasta sauce with less than 1 g of total fat per serving
Pasta sauce with more than 1 g of fat per serving, including meat, cheese, or cream sauce
Snacks and treats
Rice cakes without chocolate, cheese, or butter
Fat-free granola bars
Freezies and sorbet
Air-popped popcorn with no butter
Baked plain pretzels
Cereal (see "Grain products" above)
Fat-free chocolate, strawberry, and maple syrup
Ice cream and frozen yogurt if less than 0.1% fat
Gummie candies and gum
Jell-O and fruit gels
Chips and cheezies
Nuts and seeds
Muffins and cakes
Regular or flavoured popcorn
Ice cream and frozen yogurt if more than 0.1% fat
Oils, spreads, and other foods
Ketchup, mustard, and relish
Fat-free broths and soups
Jams and jellies
Honey (for children older than 1 year)
Ultra low-fat Cool Whip (0.9% fat)
Fat-free salad dressing
Vegetarian sushi (no avocado, egg, or crabmeat)
Soups and cream soups
Sushi with meat, fish, avocado, egg, or crabmeat
Foods for babies and toddlers
Portagen or Tolerex formula
Plain infant cereal
All fruits and vegetables
Fruit and vegetable juices (limit to 4 oz per day or as directed by dietitian)
Baby mum-mum rice rusks
Homemade pureed or minced lean white fish, skinless chicken breast or turkey breast (limit to 1/2 to 1 oz per day)
All infant formula except Portagen and Tolerex
Minigo, Danino, and Danimals yogurt and cheese
Yogurt tubes and drinks with more than 1% fat
Infant cereal with formula, milk, or yogurt, such as Milupa
Jarred baby custards and some desserts
Cookies, including Arrowroot and Farleys
Baby jars of meat and foods with meat
More tips to reduce fat
Do not add any oil, butter, margarine, or other fats.
Use low-fat cooking methods such as steaming, broiling, barbecuing, or baking.
Choose the right foods
Choose foods that are appropriate for your child’s age.
If you are unsure about a food, talk to your dietitian.
List foods you would like to ask the dietitian about here:
Your dietitian’s name:
Your dietitian's phone number: