New Treatments for Children With Eating Problems

Two-and-a-half-year-old Finn Richard is struggling to master the most basic skill he needs to thrive and grow: eating.

Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital in Baltimore, where Finn is treated in an outpatient feeding therapy program, is one of a growing number of hospitals offering clinics that treat a range of feeding disorders. Some are collaborating to improve research and develop treatment guidelines.

As many as 35% of children have feeding problems, from mild picky eaters to children with much more severe food refusal and physical reasons that cause food avoidance, saysRichard M. Katz, chief medical officer at Mt. Washington. The more severely affected children, along with children with disabilities are thought to constitute 10% of children who have significant difficulty eating, Dr. Katz says. In addition to the risk of malnutrition, children face longer-term physical and neurological development issues.

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