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Swallowing Disorders in Infants and Children

By: Nancy Swigert, MA, CCC-SLP, BCS-S

INFANTS AND BOTTLE/BREAST FEEDINGbaby girl drinking water

Infants gain all their nutrition through breast or bottle feeding until they are at least six months of age. The ability to suck successfully from breast or bottle requires the infant to coordinate three actions: suck-swallow-breathe.   Suck is accomplished with slightly different motions on the breast compared to the bottle, but essentially the lips must close on the nipple and the tongue moves in and out in a suckle motion and presses the nipple against the roof of the mouth, creating pressure on the nipple. As the jaw moves down, it helps create suction to pull the liquid into the mouth. The infant then has to swallow the liquid, and the infant must stop breathing during each swallow and then breathe after swallowing. The suck-swallow-breathe sequence then starts again. Many things can interfere with this sophisticated system for swallowing. Here are some examples of possible causes of difficulty with feeding in infants. Many of these problems can continue to affect the child’s ability to eat and swallow as they grow.

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Why won’t my child eat like other’s of his (or her) age?

children-playingByline: Donna Edwards, MA CCC-SLP, BRS-S

[NFOSD note. Due to the significant volume of emails and calls we receive from families who have a child with a feeding or swallowing disorder, we reached out to Donna Edwards for her insight into what makes this such a difficult diagnosis and treatment. Donna spent a significant amount of quality time listening to what we are hearing and provides an in-depth and insightful response to this subject matter. Thank you for this valuable contribution.]

As a practicing pediatric clinician, I often hear from physicians, “Why does this child have feeding difficulty when there is no evidence of developmental delay, neurological insult or obvious diagnosis?”  It’s a difficult question to answer, not only for the child and the family, but one that holds the speech language pathologists interest as well.

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Not Just a “Fear of Food” – Pediatric Dysphagia

 

Meet Jayden… a healthy, cute, full of life five year old. Every parent’s dream. But, don’t take our word for it, watch this KATU (Portland) newscast which aired on June 10, 2013 and read his story.

Pediatric dysphagia is more common than generally believed. For additional information, click here to read about “Jayden’s Journey” from the beginning.



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Finding Help for Your Child with Dysphagia

By: Nancy B. Swigert, M.A.,CCC-SLP,BRS-S

You’re worried about your child’s feeding and swallowing skills.  Maybe your child is still taking the bottle when her peers are drinking from a cup. Perhaps your child is choking and gagging when eating certain foods.  Or maybe your child, who used to take the bottle with no problems,  screams every time he sees the bottle and refuses to drink.  Or maybe your child has taken the term “picky eater” to new heights; picky doesn’t begin to describe the limited list of foods your child will eat. Perhaps you’ve had to stop taking your child out to eat at restaurants because his tantrums during meal times draw too much attention. Or your child tries new foods, but spits them out and refuses to swallow.

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Swallowing versus Feeding Disorders in Children

The NFOSD team is constantly on the lookout for useful news articles. North Shore Pediatric Therapy posted a website article on Swallowing Disorders vs. Feeding Disorders in Children on October 16, 2012. The article was written by Gretchen Olson, SLP.

We field questions almost weekly from mothers who have young children with Dysphagia. We recognize a pattern of similar characteristics from these frequent contacts. The young child has generally been seen by multiple doctors or therapists over a period of a few years and there is no definitive diagnosis, physical abnormality, or known “reason” why the child is unable to successfully eat. In addition, the amount of time and energy exerted by the mother is draining to the point of near hopelessness.

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