May 17, 2023
(Rockville, MD) With more than 1 in 37 children under the age of 5 affected by pediatric feeding disorder in the United States annually, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is urging families to learn the signs of the condition this May, Pediatric Feeding Disorder Awareness Month.
Pediatric feeding disorder is defined as impaired oral intake that is not age-appropriate and is associated with medical, nutritional, feeding skill, and/or psychosocial dysfunction. It can affect children at various stages in their development, from birth to grade school and beyond.
Signs of pediatric feeding disorder can include the following:
Pediatric feeding disorder is not something to be left untreated, and learning the signs of disorder is a critical first step toward addressing it. The condition can be distressing for children and families alike. It can affect a child’s health and can result in serious issues—including dehydration or poor nutrition, food or liquid going into the airway (called aspiration), and pneumonia or other lung infections. It can also lead to a child having negative feelings about eating. In addition, the disorder can hinder children academically and socially.
ASHA encourages concerned parents to seek professional help from speech-language pathologists (SLPs), who can diagnose pediatric feeding disorder and can help children with the condition in ways that include the following:
Families who are concerned about their child’s feeding should always trust their instincts and seek a professional evaluation. For children ages birth to 3 years, parents and caregivers can connect with their local early intervention program to request a free evaluation. Families can also find help from SLPs in private practice. Look for one who specializes in feeding and swallowing disorders. A searchable database of these professionals can be found at www.asha.org/profind.
About the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
ASHA is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for 228,000 members and affiliates who are audiologists; speech-language pathologists; speech, language, and hearing scientists; audiology and speech-language pathology support personnel; and students. Audiologists specialize in preventing and assessing hearing and balance disorders as well as providing audiologic treatment, including hearing aids. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) identify, assess, and treat speech, language, and swallowing disorders.