Demographics of children with feeding difficulties from a large electronic health record database

JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 2022 Jul;46(5):1022-1030. doi: 10.1002/jpen.2379. Epub 2022 Apr 30.


Background: Feeding difficulties are among the most common concerns expressed by parents in younger children. However, few studies have reported on the characteristics of patients with clinically significant feeding diagnoses. The aim of the current study is to describe the characteristics of patients diagnosed with feeding difficulties including concurrent conditions, age, and sex, sampled nationwide utilizing the Cerner Health Facts Database.

Methods: We identified patients with a diagnosis of feeding difficulties (ICD-9 783.3 or ICD-10 R63.3), age 7 months to 17 years, with an outpatient visit between 2010 and 2017. The demographics and complex clinical conditions of this population were categorized. The cohort was then collapsed into a matrix defining recognized phenotype codes for ICD-9 and ICD-10 diagnoses to identify associated conditions.

Results: We identified 39,674 patients (0.95%) representing 101,684 encounters from 68 health systems across the United States; 43% of patients were female. Gastrointestinal conditions were the most common, followed by malnutrition, developmental and behavioral diagnoses, and neurologic conditions.

Conclusions: This study is one of the most robust studies defining the prevalence, demographic characteristics, and phenotypic profiling of patients with feeding difficulties. Our observations have implications on screening and resource allocation to recognize and manage this poorly understood population.

Keywords: ambulatory; comorbidities; enteral nutrition; feeding disorders; gastroenterology; pediatrics; prevalence.

MeSH terms

  • Cohort Studies
  • Databases, Factual
  • Electronic Health Records*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Malnutrition* / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • United States / epidemiology