Speech & Hearing - Feeding & Swallowing

Otolaryngology banner image - mother feeding an infant

Swallowing allows us to eat and drink to get adequate food and liquid for survival. The infant or child also needs adequate nutrition for growth and development of body and mind. Thus, the inability to swallow can have severe and even fatal consequences in children. As a result, swallowing disorders (also referred to as dysphagia) must be identified accurately and managed aggressively. Infants and children with swallowing disorders are a diverse group ranging from the very small premature newborn to the full-grown adolescent. Often parents are the first to notice a problem with feeding and swallowing.

Characteristics of Infants and Children with Swallowing Disorders:

  • A variety of medical conditions, illnesses, and syndromes may affect an infant's ability to swallow.
  • Premature infants are at risk of having swallowing difficulties.
  • Neurological disorders such as cerebral palsy have been known to cause swallowing disorders.
  • Children born with abnormalities in the head and neck may also experience swallowing disorders.
  • The symptoms of swallowing disorders in the infant or child include poor feeding, refusal to take a bottle, or initially taking a bottle or breast and refusing after a few sucks.
  • Other signs that may signal a swallowing problem include apnea (the infant stops breathing and may turn blue), liquid coming out of the nose, choking, gagging, vomiting, and congestion during feeding.
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University Hospital Clinics Building
1005 Harborside Drive
Galveston, Texas

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Brittany Plaza
1600 West League City Parkway, Suite D
League City, Texas

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Mainland Crossing
9300 Emmett F. Lowry Expressway
Texas City, Texas

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