Pediatric feeding disorders can disrupt many aspects of a child’s life and overall well-being.
Some infants and children have trouble feeding. They are more than fussy babies or picky eaters. For them, eating can be painful, frightening, or even impossible. As a result, they may severely limit their food choices or refuse food altogether, preventing them from getting the nutrition they need.
These children suffer from pediatric feeding disorders. A pediatric feeding disorder is a severe disruption to eating, drinking, or digesting that may cause medical problems and compromise growth and development. It is conservatively estimated that severe pediatric feeding disorders affect more than one million children under the age of five in the United States.*
When caring for a child with a pediatric feeding disorder, families often feel isolated and alone. Nourishing these children can be difficult, as they may need to rely on medication, surgery, specialized feeding programs and therapies, or feeding tubes to thrive. Every child’s situation is different. Diagnosis and treatment should involve a team of experts. Along with the family, the team may include a:
Pediatric feeding disorders are more common than most people realize. More than 300 conditions put children at higher risk, including autism, congenital heart defects, food allergies, prematurity, genetic disorders, and digestive conditions. Left untreated, a child with a pediatric feeding disorder may not thrive—physically, emotionally, cognitively, or socially. Early intervention is essential.
* Barkmeier-Kraemer JM1, Linn C, Thompson HL, Byrd RS, Steinfeld MB, Hoffmann RG, Silverman AH. Preliminary Study of a Caregiver-based Infant and Child Feeding and Swallowing Screening Tool. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2017 Jun;64(6):979-983. doi: 10.1097/MPG.0000000000001442.