Feeding dysfunction (FD) seen in younger children with eosinophilic gastrointestinal disease (EGID) has not been well described. Thus, our aim was to further characterize FD in children with EGIDs.
A retrospective medical record analysis of 200 children seen over 12 months in a multidisciplinary Gastrointestinal Eosinophilic Diseases Program was performed. The clinical data of 33 children identified as also having FD were examined, including information obtained by history, physical examination, feeding evaluation, review of nutritional data, allergy testing and histologic assessment of mucosal biopsies.
Of 200 children with EGIDs, 16.5% had significant FD. The median age of this group was 34 months (range: 14–113 months). A variety of learned maladaptive feeding behaviors were reported in 93.9%. Frequent gagging or vomiting occurred in 84.8%. Food sensitivity was documented in 88% while 52% had other allergic disease. Twenty one percent were diagnosed with failure to thrive and 69.7% required individual or group feeding therapy. Forty-two percent had residual eosinophilia of >15 per HPF on esophageal biopsies performed at the time of symptoms.
FD is prevalent in children with EGIDs often presenting as maladaptive learned feeding behaviors with altered mealtime dynamics and physical difficulties in eating mechanics. FD can persist even after eosinophilic inflammation is successfully treated. Awareness of the increased prevalence of FD in children with EGIDs with enable earlier recognition of this problem, resulting in a comprehensive, individualized treatment plan with the desired outcome of improving the development, feeding, and nutrition of these children.