Classifying complex pediatric feeding disorders

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 1998 Aug;27(2):143-7. doi: 10.1097/00005176-199808000-00003.


Background: This study defines the multiple characteristics associated with complex pediatric feeding problems and determines the relative frequency of each classification in a population referred to an interdisciplinary feeding team.

Methods: The written reports from team evaluations on 103 children (64 males, 39 females; age range 4 months to 17 years) were reviewed. Prematurity and/or presence of developmental delay was coded. Identified factors related to current feeding problems were coded according to five categories: structural abnormalities, neurological conditions, behavioral issues, cardiorespiratory problems, metabolic dysfunction.

Results: Interrater reliability for the classification coding was 88%. Thirty-eight percent of the children had a history of pre- maturity and 74% were reported to have evidence of developmental delay. The following five categories or combinations were coded most frequently: structural-neurological-behavioral (30%), neurological-behavioral (27%), behavioral (12%), structural-behavioral (9%), and structural-neurological (8%). Overall, behavioral issues were coded more often (85%) than neurological conditions (73%), structural abnormalities (57%), cardiorespiratory problems (7%), or metabolic dysfunction (5%).

Conclusions: Data analysis using this classification system revealed that the majority of children in this sample had a behavioral component to their complex feeding problem, regardless of concurrent physical factors. These findings suggest that complex pediatric feeding problems are biobehavioral conditions in which biological and behavioral aspects mutually interact, and both need to be addressed to achieve normal feeding.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Behavior
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / complications
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Digestive System Abnormalities / complications
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / classification*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / etiology
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Male
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / complications
  • Nervous System Diseases / complications
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / complications