Preventing Feeding Disorders from the Start in Premature and Medically Compromised Infants

April 13, 2023 3:45 pm

Presentation Summary

Preterm and medically compromised infants are at high risk for impaired oral feeding progression and long-term tube feeding dependency. An interdisciplinary model of prevention can reduce the likelihood of long-term feeding problems, provide invaluable support to families after hospital discharge, and keep infants on track for normative feeding progression.

Learning Objectives

  1. Describe the etiology of pediatric feeding disorders in premature and medically compromised infants
  2. Describe the application of cue-based feeding to wean at-risk infants from NG tubes
  3. Describe the utility of an interdisciplinary model of care to prevent pediatric feeding disorders


  • Melissa Andersen

    Melissa Andersen PhD

    Melissa Andersen is a pediatric psychologist who completed her doctoral training at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, pre-doctoral residency in neurodevelopmental disabilities and pediatric psychology at Oregon Health & Science University, and post-doctoral fellowship in pediatric psychology at the University of Michigan. She is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Michigan/C.S. Mott Children's Hospital where she serves as the head of the Cue-Based Feeding Program and director of the home NG Follow Up Clinic. She served as the PI of a large-scale quality improvement grant focusing on improving the hospital-wide approach to promoting oral feeding skill acquisition in hospitalized infants and preventing feeding disorders in this high-risk population. Melissa leads the Infant Feeding Task Force, serves on the Care at Home Task Force, and led the multi-disciplinary development of the hospitalwide Infant Oral Feeding Acquisition Feeding clinical practice guideline. She has over 10 years of experience in neurodevelopmental care of high-risk infants and pediatric feeding disorders.

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  • Natalie Berez

    Natalie Berriz PhD

    Natalie Berriz received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Bradley University and her doctoral degree in clinical psychology from Eastern Michigan University. She is also a board certified behavior analyst (BCBA). She completed her predoctoral internship at Marcus Autism Center in applied behavior analysis and developmental disabilities and her fellowship in pediatric psychology at Michigan Medicine with a specialized focus on pediatric feeding disorders. Natalie is one of a handful of psychologists in the state of Michigan with the expertise needed to prevent and treat pediatric feeding disorders. Dual degrees in Clinical Psychology (specializing in Pediatric Psychology) and behavior analysis provide her with a greater clinical understanding of how to assess and treat the most medically, developmentally, and behaviorally complex patients. She joined the faculty in the Interdisciplinary Pediatric Feeding Program at Michigan Medicine to expand the services offered to children and their families with pediatric feeding disorders. She is particularly interested in the prevention and early intervention of pediatric feeding disorders. Natalie prides herself on having a family centered approach, tailoring interventions and recommendations to what will yield the most success with the patient and satisfaction from the family. As a previous member of a team granted the Evan Newport Hope award for outstanding patient and family centered care, she strives to continue to live up to the standards of that award.

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  • Catherine Joppich

    Catherine Joppich RDN, CLC

    Catherine Joppich is a registered dietitian nutritionist at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. She graduated from Central Michigan University with her Bachelor of Science and completed her dietetic internship with a concentration in pediatric clinical nutrition at Michigan Medicine. Following her internship, she worked as an inpatient clinical dietitian floating between services providing long term coverage in the NICU, Pediatric Nephrology, and Pediatric Surgery services. Catherine now works in the outpatient setting for Interdisciplinary Pediatric Feeding Program. She primarily sees infants with NG tubes in the NG Follow Clinic providing nutrition support, growth monitoring, and guidance for tube weaning when the infants are medically and physically ready.

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  • Megan Schmuckel

    Megan Schmuckel MA, CCC-SLP, CLC

    Megan Schmuckel is a senior speech-language pathologist and certified lactation counselor who has spent the last fourteen years providing assessment and treatment of speech, language, and feeding disorders at Michigan Medicine. During that time, she developed a passion for infant dysphagia, particularly helping families of premature infants, as well as infants with medical complexity. After twelve years of her career focusing primarily on acute care and rehabilitation in the inpatient setting, she took the leap in March 2020 to join the Interdisciplinary Pediatric Feeding Program full time. With this team, Megan has assisted in developing the NG Follow-Up Clinic, a program designed to provide multidisciplinary care to infants and their families being discharged from the hospital with a nasogastric tube.

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