Ana Theresa Williams BSN RN
Zach at 4 years old was seen for a neurodevelop-mental evalua-tion due to feeding prob-lems. Zach takes only milk for-mula and always through a sy-ringe. Zach was breastfed from birth up to 15 months old. He was shifted to milk formula when his mother became pregnant. Zach refused the feeding bottle, cup and was given milk via syringe.
Zach also refused to eat any solid food. Now when food is given he would just keep the food in his mouth then spit it out.
Zach’s developmental history revealed language delay, poor social reciprocity, engaging in repetitive behaviors and restricted interests with other symptoms of sensory processing dysfunction.
Davao Doctors Hos-pital neuro-developmental pediatrics specialist Mervin Edcel Flavier,MD said parents work very hard to prepare a nutritious meal for their child.
And understandably, parents will feel angry and upset when their child refuses to eat, he added.
Thus, this causes great stress for parents and caregivers.
In this case, Dr. Flavier said there’ll be worries about illness, malnutrition, weight loss and other future problems.
To make their babies eat, parents even resort to pleading, urging, criticizing, threatening or punishing for not eating, he said.
Unfortunately, children may then learn that this is a way of controlling or getting a reaction from their respective parents.
Actually, he said force feeding will only aggravate the situation or problem. Children may even choose to endanger their health rather than give in.
Feeding problems represent one of the most common concerns that parents report about their children and it’s been estimated to be 25 to 35 percent of typically developed children, the neurodevelopmental pediat-ric specialist said.
Dr. Flavier said feeding problems are often the first concern that parents have for children with special needs. Infants with severe neuro-developmental problems at 18 months did not have sucking pressure.
He said one-third of extremely premature infants have feeding problems during infancy, while 18 per-cent of infants with congenital heart disease who undergo open heart surgery have dysphagia or difficulty in swallowing.
Prevalence of feeding problems is estimated to be as high as 90 percent in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD, he said.
In order to handle behavioral feeding problems, the medical expert enumerated the following tips: try to relax, consider child’s hunger level, eliminate constant snacking and junk food, have time limited meals, offer limited choices, serve small portions, ignore bad table manners, praise good eating and table manners, and reward chart for good eating and behaviors.
Finally, Dr. Flavier said feeding problems are due to the deterrent influence of the physical developmental, beha-vioral and sensory impairments present in children with special needs. Management is individua-lized, team effort with strategies, methods and special assistive devices and procedures all laid out in a nutritional assessment and management plan.
HEALTHWATCHING: For the Lord taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation. Psalm 149:4