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. Applying the US Census Bureau’s 2017 population estimates, approximately 51,000 children in Arizona and over 2.3 Million children under the age of 5 nationally experience severe pediatric feeding disorders annually.*
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.
* Manikam R, Perman JA. Pediatric feeding disorders. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2000;30(1):34-46. Reau NR, Senturia YD, Lebailly SA, Christoffel KK. Infant and toddler feeding patterns and problems: normative data and a new direction. Pediatric Practice Research Group. J Dev Behav Pediatr. 1996;17(3):149-153.