Pediatric Dysphagia

The 'incidence' of pediatric dysphagia refers to the number of new cases identified in a specified time period. The 'prevalence'of pediatric dysphagia refers to the number of children who are living with pediatric dysphagia in a given time period.

Estimated reports of the incidence and prevalence of pediatric feeding/swallowing impairment vary widely due to multiple factors, such as variations in the populations sampled, how feeding and/or swallowing impairment is defined, and the choice of assessment methods and measures (Arvedson, 2008; Lefton-Greif, 2008). Pediatric feeding and/or swallowing impairment incidence and prevalence data from the review papers cited below reflect this high variability.

  • It has been reported that 25%-45% of typically developing children demonstrate feeding and swallowing problems (Arvedson, 2008; Bernard-Bonnin, 2006; Brackett, Arvedson, & Manno, 2006; Burklow, Phelps, Schultz, McConnell, & Rudolph, 1998; Lefton-Greif, 2008; Linscheid, 2006; Manikam & Perman, 2000; Rudolph & Link, 2002).
  • Prevalence is estimated to be 30%-80% for children with developmental disorders (Arvedson, 2008; Brackett, Arvedson, & Manno, 2006; Lefton-Greif, 2008; Manikam & Perman, 2000).
  • Significant feeding problems resulting in severe consequences (e.g., growth failure, susceptibility to chronic illness) have been reported to occur in 3%-10% of children, with a higher prevalence found in children with physical disabilities (26%-90%) and medical illness and prematurity (10%-49%; Manikam & Perman, 2000).
  • It is reported that the prevalence of pediatric dysphagia is increasing due to improved survival rates of children born prematurely, with low birth weight, and with complex medical conditions (Arvedson, 2008; Lefton-Greif, 2008).

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