Picky eating is normal in children, but a paediatric feeding disorder is a much more serious problem that can affect a child's physical and mental development, says an expert.
It's important to differentiate between the two, advises Peter Girolami, clinical director of the Paediatric Feeding Disorders Program at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore.
A picky eater may reject certain foods but still has a nourishing diet. Children with a paediatric feeding disorder may consume only three to four types of foods and reject entire food groups, which means they don't get enough kilojoules and nutrients for healthy growth and development.
Some children with paediatric feeding disorders have aversions to certain textures and colours, while other children have difficulty self-feeding because of a medical, psychological or developmental problem.
Research suggests that up to 10% of infants and children have a paediatric feeding disorder.
Girolami, writing in an institute news release, said common symptoms of a paediatric feeding disorder include:
A sudden change in eating habits that lasts longer than 30 days.
Choking/coughing during meals.
Unexplained fatigue and loss of energy.
Disruptive behaviour during meals.
Delayed development of skills needed to self-feed or consume higher textures.
Early diagnosis and treatment of paediatric feeding disorders is crucial because the longer the disorder goes untreated, the more complex it can become. In extreme cases, some children require feeding tubes. (HealthDay, September 2011)
The Los Altos Feeding Clinic has more about paediatric feeding disorders.
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