As your children grow and explore the world around them, their diet is one of the most important things to pay attention to, as eating a balance of healthy foods is essential for their physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
If you’re worried about your child’s eating habits, don’t ignore them or think they’ll go away on their own. In this blog, we’ll talk about Pediatric Feeding Disorder (PFD), which can be a source of some kids’ feeding difficulties.
We’ll look at the following questions:
- What is Pediatric Feeding Disorder?
- What causes Pediatric Feeding Disorder?
- How many children have Pediatric Feeding Disorder?
- What does Pediatric Feeding Disorder look like?
- How do I know if my child needs feeding therapy?
- What happens during feeding therapy?
What is Pediatric Feeding Disorder?
If your child has Pediatric Feeding Disorder (PFD), they might have trouble eating enough food to stay healthy. This can be dangerous for them if it’s not taken care of. Because of this, they may become malnourished, leading to physical and mental growth problems and a weaker immune system. In severe cases, it can even contribute to chronic illnesses.
What Causes Pediatric Feeding Disorder?
There are several reasons why a feeding disorder may develop. It’s important to note that it’s typically a combination of multiple causes that contribute to feeding difficulties in a child, not a single factor.
Some of these causes include:
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease
- Gastrointestinal disorders (gastritis, duodenitis)
- Palate defects
- Failure to thrive
- Oral Motor Dysfunction (dysfunctional swallow, dysphagia, oral motor dysphagia)
- Food allergies
- Delayed exposure to a variety of foods
How Many Children Have Pediatric Feeding Disorder?
Numerous children likely have undiagnosed PFD, making it difficult to give an accurate population number. Some estimates show that PFD affects approximately 5 to 10 percent of children.
Other studies found 25% of children have some degree of feeding difficulty, of whom 3%–10% have more severe feeding disorders. Studies have also predicted a rising number of PFD diagnoses in recent years due to increased research on the relationship between feeding difficulties and developmental delays.
What Does Pediatric Feeding Disorder Look Like?
A certain level of food selectivity is completely typical in all children. Understanding the signs and patterns of PFD can help you identify it early on if further support is needed.
Signs of PFD may look like the following:
- Difficulty swallowing certain food textures
- Being very picky with food
- Becoming upset or overwhelmed at mealtimes
- Refusal of certain foods
- Choking, gagging, or throwing up when eating
- Only preferring certain food groups or textures
- weight loss or lack of weight gain
- Not meeting feeding milestones
- Chronic illnesses such as respiratory infections
- Difficulties with oral motor skills
How Do I Know if My Child Needs Feeding Therapy?
If you notice certain patterns in your child’s eating habits, it’s important to make an appointment with their primary care provider, who will help you determine if they have PFD or another problem. Catching feeding problems early on is important so they can be dealt with before they get worse.
What Happens During Feeding Therapy?
A therapist will work with you and your child to figure out what your child can already do when it comes to eating, where they’re having trouble, and why. Then, they will build on their strengths and what they can do while creating a program to help support their needs.
The therapist will work with your child one-on-one to help them eat better, working with you and other caretakers to show you how best to support your child’s eating.
Ally Pediatric Therapy’s Approach to Feeding Therapy
Don’t let Pediatric Feeding Disorder hold your child back.
Ally Pediatric’s feeding therapy program addresses all the challenges that come with PFD. Our team takes a personalized approach to helping children and supporting their parents.
Reach out to us today to find out how our program can help you and your child.