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  • Christine Amaro, CWL Volunteer

Why Is My Baby Having Trouble Feeding?

One complication that many doctors do not tell you about that can be associated with LM is feeding difficulties.

When the baby begins feeding they can have difficulty coordinating the suck, swallow, breath reflex, and can choke because the formula or breast milk enters the airway. The liquids can penetrate the airway or even be aspirated into the lungs, which can cause frequent respiratory infections. The child can also have difficulty staying awake during feeds because they are working so hard to breathe and drink that they exhaust themselves. If the little one struggles with this for an extended period of time they can sometimes develop aversions (a refusal to drink) or even dysphagia (difficulty swallowing). These aversions can become amplified if the child also suffers from reflux because they find it painful to eat.

When the LM little one does not eat enough they may struggle to gain weight or maintain a healthy weight and be diagnosed with failure to thrive. If this is the case some of these children need intervention such as feeding therapy, weight checks, and worst-case scenario a feeding tube, NG, or G-tube (NG=tube through the nose into the stomach, G-tube tube directly into the stomach from the external belly). The purpose of the feeding tube is to supplement what the child is unable to take orally to maintain a healthy weight. If you find that your baby is struggling with feeding let your doctor know, they will be able to closely monitor and see what the best strategy is to help.

A few tests that can be done to diagnose feeding difficulty is a modified barium swallow, this test will show if your child has difficulty swallowing and what types of liquids they have trouble with (thin, nectar consistency, or honey consistency) and if the child aspirates or penetrates on these consistencies.

Another test that is often used to diagnose reflux is an upper GI series where the barium is followed into the stomach and they watch to see how often and how far up the barium comes back up into the esophagus. If there is evidence of reflux you can also ask your doctor to have a PH probe test done where the monitor the acid level and also how far and often the reflux comes up into the esophagus. This test will show whether or not the reflux medications that your child is on are working to lower the acid levels of their stomach acid.

LM is scary in itself but throw feeding difficulties into the equation and it can be nerve-racking and exhausting.

Get additional support from caregivers who are walking the same journey as you here.

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