Dysphagia and aspiration in children

Pediatr Pulmonol. 2012 Apr;47(4):321-37. doi: 10.1002/ppul.21576. Epub 2011 Oct 18.


Aspiration is a significant cause of respiratory morbidity and sometimes mortality in children. It occurs when airway protective reflexes fail, especially, when dysphagia is also present. Clinical symptoms and physical findings of aspiration can be nonspecific. Advances in technology can lead to early diagnosis of dysphagia and aspiration, and, new therapeutic advances can significantly improve outcome and prognosis. This report first reviews the anatomy and physiology involved in the normal process of swallowing. Next, the protective reflexes that help to prevent aspiration are discussed followed by the pathophysiologic events that occur after an aspiration event. Various disease processes that can result in dysphagia and aspiration in children are discussed. Finally, the various methods for diagnosis and treatment of dysphagia in children are reviewed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chronic Disease
  • Deglutition / physiology*
  • Deglutition Disorders / diagnostic imaging
  • Deglutition Disorders / physiopathology
  • Deglutition Disorders / therapy
  • Enteral Nutrition
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Radiography
  • Respiratory Aspiration / diagnostic imaging
  • Respiratory Aspiration / physiopathology*
  • Respiratory Aspiration / therapy
  • Respiratory System / anatomy & histology
  • Respiratory System / diagnostic imaging
  • Respiratory System / physiopathology*