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Friday November 1, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Friday November 1, 2013 MYT 9:30:20 AM
Some children need help overcoming their feeding difficulties.
THEY are the picture of a happy family. Four-year old *Anusha chats animatedly with her parents as she plays with her iPad.
Her mother Saraswathy and her father Buven, fuss over her like only loving parents could. The feeding tube attached to the left side of Anusha’s face was the only indication that she has feeding difficulty.
Anusha has hypotonia, which causes her muscles, including those at her mouth and throat, to be weaker than normal. Because she couldn’t swallow milk like other infants, she was fed through a tube from the day she was born.
“For many children, eating is something that comes naturally to them. Anusha is different. She has to be fed through a tube since she was young,” explained Dr Juriza Ismail, a paediatrician at the Feeding Disorder Clinic in Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Centre, Kuala Lumpur.
“She has to be taught how to bite, chew and swallow her food.”
Anusha, now four, is still fed liquid nutritional supplement for children through a tube. Her parents have been trying to get her to eat solid foods.
So far, Anusha enjoys snacks that melt easily in her mouth. However, when it comes to more solid food, she would just let the morsels remain in her mouth and rarely swallows them.
Anusha is an intelligent and active girl. Still, her parents are worried her feeding difficulty will make it difficult for their daughter to fit in with other children.
According to dietitian Ruzana Abdullah, Anusha often refused to eat when her parents first brought her to the feeding disorder clinic a few months ago. She had been referred to the clinic for further evaluation and also to gauge the possibility of feeding via gastrostomy.
After a careful evaluation, a team of multidisciplinary experts, which included Dr Juriza and Ruzana, found that Anusha’s eating skills were emerging and could be improved by proper meal planning and feeding method.
They proceeded to work closely with Anusha’s parents to formulate a meal plan specially designed just for her. The team also offered guidance and advice to her parents on how to best feed their daughter.
To help children with feeding difficulties, it is important to work with specialists over a series of follow-up visits after the first consultation.
This is to ensure that patients develop permanent improvements in their eating behaviour.
In just a few months of follow-up sessions with different specialists, Anusha has shown improvements that has left her parents overjoyed.
Her mother Saraswathy said, “It’s amazing how my daughter is now eating bigger portions.”
Anusha has also developed more interest in solid food. “Now, whenever I blend her food, she would rub her tummy and say ‘Yummy!’ in anticipation!”
“It’s our hope that Anusha would learn how to eat like other children by the time she is old enough to go to school,” said Saraswathy.
They still have some way to go in helping Anusha overcome her eating disorder, but her parents are so much more hopeful now. With the expert treatment and follow-ups Anusha receives, they believe there is now a ray of light at the end of the tunnel.
Feeding difficulties have the potential to negatively affect a child’s growth, development and behaviour.
Since 2012, the Malaysian Paediatric Association has collaborated with Abbott Nutrition to promote Identification and Management of Feeding Difficulties (IMFeD), a tool that allows for efficient and effective diagnosis of childhood feeding difficulties. For more information, visit www.imfed.my.
This article was contributed by the IMFeD programme, spearheaded by the Malaysian Paediatric Association in collaboration with Abbott Nutrition Malaysia.
*The names of the child and their parents have been changed for privacy reasons.
Tags / Keywords:
Family & Community, Feeding Difficulty, Hypotonia, Feeding Disorder Clinic, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Centre, Malaysia Paediatric Association
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