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Evaluation & Treatment: Medical Domain

Authored by: Richard J. Noel, MD, PhD, Daniel B. Kessler, MD, FAAP, and Feeding Matters

The act of eating is a complex task that involves the entire body and its organs working as one seamless unit. It takes 13 paired muscles (26 total) and six cranial nerves working in perfect harmony to move food and liquid from the mouth to the stomach. This process takes only seconds but is more difficult than walking or talking. It is the single most complex and physically demanding task an infant will complete for the first few weeks, and even months, of life. Each time an infant or child eats, he or she must successfully organize and coordinate the respiratory system to breathe, swallow, and maintain motor control. After the feeding is over, the digestive system is hard at work breaking down the food and processing it into energy for the body.

If one disruption occurs during this process and is left untreated, the complexity and longevity of the feeding disorder will likely increase. This section is designed to help you understand the most common specialists, diagnoses, medical testing, and procedures that may affect an infant’s or child’s desire or ability to eat and drink.

Who Can Help Assess and Treat

Your child’s primary care physician is commonly responsible for identifying potential feeding disorders and often needs to facilitate referrals to other specialists. Pediatric feeding disorder ia complex and typically requires several subspecialists working together. Below is a list of the most common specialists who should work collaboratively to deliver the best care for your child.

Pediatric Specialists

Allergists/Immunologists Cardiologists Dentists
Endocrinologists Gastroenterologists Geneticists
Neurologists Otolaryngologists (ENTs) Pulmonologists

Hover over each specialist to learn more about how they relate to pediatric feeding disorder.

This model address all aspects of pediatric feeding disorder. Click the model to learn more.