Symptoms of Feeding Problems in Preterm-born Children at 6 Months to 7 Years Old

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2019 Mar;68(3):416-421. doi: 10.1097/MPG.0000000000002229.


Objectives: Describe symptoms of feeding problems in children born very preterm (<32 weeks gestation) and moderate to late preterm (32-37 weeks gestation) compared to children born full-term; explore the contribution of medical risk factors to problematic feeding symptoms.

Methods: The sample included 57 very preterm, 199 moderate to late preterm, and 979 full-term born children ages 6 months to 7 years. Symptoms of feeding problems were assessed using the Pediatric Eating Assessment Tool and compared between groups after accounting for the child's age and/or sex. With the sample of preterm children, we further analyzed 11 medical factors as potential risk factors affecting a child's feeding symptoms: feeding problems in early infancy and conditions of oxygen requirement past 40 weeks of postmenstrual age, congenital heart disease, structural anomaly, genetic disorder, cerebral palsy, developmental delay, speech-language delay, sensory processing disorder, vision impairment, or symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux.

Results: Compared to children born full-term, both very preterm and moderate to late preterm born children had significantly higher scores on the Pediatric Eating Assessment Tool total scale and all 4 subscales. More severe symptoms were noted in very preterm children, particularly in the areas of Physiologic Symptoms and Selective/Restrictive Eating. Among preterm children, all 11 medical factors were found to be associated significantly with increased symptoms of feeding problems.

Conclusion: Compared to children born full-term, preterm born children demonstrated greater symptoms of feeding problems regardless of their current age, suggesting children born preterm may require more careful monitoring of feeding throughout childhood.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / diagnosis
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / epidemiology
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Premature
  • Male
  • Parents
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires