In simple words, feeding disorders are the avoidance of food. It includes a challenge that limits the intake of food by a child. It could be a physical difficulty to suck, chew, or swallow food, or it could be a refusal to eat or just eating particular foods.
Reflux, oesophagal achalasia, and swallowing abnormalities are frequently connected with feeding issues. There are no two eating disorders alike, and each child’s case is often complicated, encompassing a slew of interconnected issues.
What Is A Feeding Disorder And How Does It Affect Kids?
A child’s feeding disorder arises when he or she does not consume enough food to meet the body’s nutritional, calorie, and water needs in order to develop and flourish. Children with no underlying medical issue, those with an underlying medical cause such as a gastrointestinal disorder, GERD, or food allergies, and those with a physical defect such as a cleft palate can all have feeding disorders.
There is no single cause of most feeding disorders, but recent research suggests that a patient’s treatment is based on a combination of social, psychological, and organic variables.
- Feeding difficulties are most common in children between the ages of 2 and 5 years.
- Feeding disorders affect more boys than girls (about two-thirds of patients are male).
- Feeding issues affect about 15% of children who are normally developing
- 40% of children are delayed in development.
- Premature neonates are affected by feeding disorders 40 to 70 % of the time.
How Common Are Feeding Disorders?
Feeding and swallowing issues affect 25 to 45 % of infants who are generally developing, but the frequency is substantially higher (up to 80 %) in children with severe medical and behavioural disorders.
Between 25 and 30% of children with heart disorders have ongoing eating challenges. It is reported that in India, one in four children has a feeding/eating difficulty. However, very few children need treatment to overcome this avoidance.
What Factors Contribute To The Development Of Eating Disorders?
Feeding issues can occur at any age, but they are more common later in life. They usually appear between the ages of 2 and 4 years in toddlers. Feeding problems in older children are often associated with anxiety or a developmental disability such as autism.
Signs & Symptoms Of A Feeding Disorder?
The symptoms of your child’s eating disorder will vary depending on the underlying cause, however, they may include:
- Choking, gagging, or gag reflexes in response to specific textures or foods
- Having food aspiration (getting food into the respiratory tract)
- Refusal of food. With meals, there are frequent behavioural outbursts
- Coughing in the middle of a meal
- Vomiting in the middle of a dinner
- Food is pocketed in the cheek of the youngster
- Consumption of non-food things
- Issues in chewing chunkier materials
How To Diagnose Eating Disorders?
The Feeding Programme specialists will begin by reviewing your child’s medical history and feeding habits. While your child is eating, the team will keep an eye out for signs of choking, coughing, or gagging.
Imaging examinations may also be used to evaluate swallowing function. A barium swallow study, a video fluoroscopic swallow study, and/or an oesophagal manometry test are examples of these tests.
If your child’s doctor detects another underlying problem, such as eosinophilic esophagitis, an endoscope or other testing may be ordered.
Treatment For Feeding Disorders
A feeding issue does not have a one-size-fits-all remedy or a quick fix.
If the child’s feeding issue has gotten severe (and hence risky), he or she may need to be admitted to the hospital for a period. Many modern treatments combine physiological assessment and treatment with behavioural therapy, which aims to improve a child’s proper eating behaviour while reducing inappropriate conduct.
The particular technique of refusal must be pinpointed in order to generate a goal and a suitable set of behaviours at meals.
- Complete food refusal
- Food selectivity, often known as picky eating, occurs when a youngster eats only a few foods.
- Low volume ccceptance is when a youngster will eat but quit after a particular amount of nutrition has been consumed.
The child will refuse to eat items that have certain textures.
Several specialists from several areas may be involved in the feeding therapy treatment. A therapy team might include behavioural specialists, speech and oral placement therapists, dieticians, and physicians, for example.
Parents can try the following:
- When food is refused, employ the time-out procedure consistently.
- Set boundaries by presenting only a few food options at mealtime.
- Encourage your family to have meals together to demonstrate proper eating habits.
Professionals working with parents of children with feeding disorders might utilize a variety of therapy options or a combination of treatments since patients respond differently to different treatments. Treatment is tailored to your child’s specific needs, as feeding issues vary in form and severity.
What Happens When The Treatment Is Complete?
Some children may need to see our feeding team on a regular basis for years, while others may just require a few visits. The typical length of treatment for feeding issues in the Feeding Program is roughly a year. If issues resurface, your child’s treatment may need to be restarted.
If you have any questions or concerns talk to us n the comments below. We will get them answered by the experts.