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Diagnosing Pediatric Feeding Disorders: January 24, 2011

You try and try, but your child isn’t budging. Getting them to even taste new foods is turning into a major battle at dinner time. Your child might have a feeding disorder.

“Screaming and crying, fits at home, mealtime becomes an absolutely nightmare because mom is desperate to get food in the child. The child is losing weight, and will cook three meals at one meal, just to get the child to eat!” explains Children’s Hospital speech pathologist, Stevie Tubbs.

She works with families of children with feeding disorders. These feeding disorders can be separated into three different categories. The first, pre-feeding. “Those babies are usually not taking their bottles, formula, well. Mom is having a really hard time getting the food in. Feedings that last more than 20-30 minutes. They go into 45 minutes.

Then we’re burning up the calories that we’re supposed to be using for nutrition,” says Tubbs. Then there’s the picky eaters. Twenty-five to 35 percent of children can fall into this category.

Followed by the problem feeder. “A picky eater has about 30 foods in his food inventory. A problem eater, 20 or less.”

Therapists at The Children’s Rehabilitation Center say these disorders may surface because of underlying medical problems. “Kids that have stomach problems, who have reflux from birth, some of our kids have very immature stomachs and digestive tracks, they’re esphogus is irritated from all the reflux because it burns so then you want to move them on to baby foods or table foods and they resist because it hurts or doesn’t feel good in their tummy.”

Each feeding disorder has a special course of treatment. Getting help early is important to avoid any developmental delays that may arise because of a lack of appropriate nutrients in the child’s diet.