A pediatric feeding disorder is diagnosed when children fail to consume an adequate quantity or quality of solids or liquids to sustain growth. Feeding disorders are fairly common in infants and toddlers, with approximately 25 percent to 35 percent experiencing some difficulties with feeding.* The incidence of severe feeding problems has been reported to be even greater—as high as 80 percent**—in children with severe to profound mental retardation. In fact, the number of children affected by feeding disorders is growing because medical advances have reduced the mortality rate of children born prematurely.
Feeding disorders typically develop for several reasons, including:
In most cases, no single factor accounts for a child’s feeding difficulties. Rather, several factors interact to produce them. Awareness of risk factors and clinical presentations of feeding disorders—combined with appropriate referrals at an early age—will produce the best outcomes for children and their families.
*Piazza, C.; Carroll-Hernandez, T. Assessment and Treatment of Pediatric Feeding Disorders. Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development. March 11, 2004.
**Repp, A.C.; Munk, D.D. Behavioral Assessment of Feeding Problems of Individuals with Severe Disabilities. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis. Summer 1994. 27(2) pp. 241-250.
Pediatric Feeding Disorders program
Penn State Children's Hospital
University of South Alabama
Dysphagia Resource Center
The Food and Nutrition Information Center
The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN)
American Dietetic Association
Centers for Disease Control
Healthfinder: Your Guide to Reliable Health Information
Mayo Health Clinic
Max Brewer was diagnosed with a mild form of autism when he was 3. His older brother, Arthur, also has autism and completed the Marcus Autism Center Early Intervention Program. “We had seen such great progress with Arthur, so we knew that we needed to start Max in the program, too,” Max’s mother, Therese, said.
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