CLINICAL TOPICS

Pediatric Dysphagia

Overview

Incidence and Prevalence

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of swallowing and feeding disorders vary based on the age of child, but may include

  • back arching;
  • breathing difficulties when feeding that might be signaled by
    • increased respiratory rate during feeding,
    • skin color change such as turning blue,
    • apnea,
    • stopping frequently due to uncoordinated suck-swallow-breathe pattern,
    • desaturation (decreasing oxygen saturation levels);
    • changes in normal heart rate (brachycardia or tachycardia) in association with feeding;
  • coughing and/or choking during or after swallowing;
  • crying during mealtimes;
  • decreased responsiveness during feeding;
  • dehydration;
  • difficulty chewing foods that are texturally appropriate for age (may spit out partially chewed food);
  • difficulty initiating swallowing;
  • difficulty managing secretions (including non-teething related drooling of saliva);
  • disengagement cues, such as facial grimacing, finger splaying, or head turning away from food source;
  • frequent congestion, particularly after meals;
  • frequent respiratory illnesses;
  • gagging;
  • loss of food/liquid from the mouth when eating;
  • noisy or wet vocal quality noted during and after feeding;
  • prolonged feeding times;
  • refusing foods of certain textures or types;
  • taking only small volumes, over-packing the mouth, and/or pocketing foods;
  • vomiting (more than typical "spit up" for infants);
  • weight loss or lack of appropriate weight gain.

Causes

Roles and Responsibilities

Assessment

Treatment

Resources

References

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