Oral Feeding Difficulties in Children With Short Bowel Syndrome: A Narrative Review

Nutr Clin Pract. 2018 Feb;33(1):99-106. doi: 10.1177/0884533617707493. Epub 2017 Dec 14.


Children with short bowel syndrome (SBS) with associated intestinal failure may be unable to absorb sufficient nutrients to sustain life. Improvements in the medical management of SBS, including use of parenteral nutrition, has significantly increased life expectancy. Independence from parenteral nutrition further improves quality of life. However, children living with SBS often develop oral aversions and feeding difficulties. There is limited research and information on which to base interventions that will preserve and develop oral motor and feeding skills. The aims of this article are to explore what is known about children with SBS who exhibit oral aversion/feeding difficulties and to suggest research for possible future interventions that could help these children overcome oral aversion, eat orally, and increase participation and satisfaction in mealtimes. This review explores the complexity of feeding children with SBS. Three underlying themes emerged: physical, developmental, and social aspects of eating and mealtimes. Interdisciplinary teams are needed to effectively address these complex oral feeding problems. Accurate identification the underlying issues will allow healthcare providers to develop interventions to improve feeding outcomes for children with SBS. Future research should focus on evaluating the effectiveness of interventions that address each of the underlying issues.

Keywords: feeding and eating disorders; feeding behavior; oral aversion; parenteral nutrition; sensory sensitivity; short bowel syndrome; short gut syndrome.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Eating / psychology*
  • Emotions
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / etiology*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Intestines / pathology
  • Meals
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Parenteral Nutrition, Total / adverse effects*
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Quality of Life
  • Short Bowel Syndrome / complications
  • Short Bowel Syndrome / therapy*