What are the different types of feeding and swallowing problems in children?

There are many possible causes for feeding and swallowing problems in children. This can include nervous system disorders, reflux or stomach problems, being premature or low birth weight, heart disease, cleft lip or palate, autism and sensory disorders, muscle weakness, or behavior problems. Children placed with feeding tubes will often need therapy to help the child and family transition back to oral foods. Problems could be identified in the oral cavity, esophageal area, laryngeal area, or during digestion. Sometimes the problem could just be “picky eating”, or it could be more medically based, such as a diagnosis of laryngomalacia. Signs and symptoms of feeding and swallowing problems in children could include coughing, choking, gagging, lengthy feeding times, trouble chewing, congestion, change of breathing rate while feeding, history of pneumonia, limited intake of food or liquids, refusal of previously accepted foods or liquids, failure to gain weight, or excessive spitting up/vomiting. Any of these issues would be adequate reasons for a speech language pathology referral.

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