(COLUMBUS, Ohio) A new strategy developed in the Neonatal and Infant Feeding Disorders Program at Nationwide Children's Hospital is helping premature infants and other newborns with severe swallowing difficulties learn to feed on their own. According to a study appearing in the February issue of the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, physicians at Nationwide Children's were able to help 15 out of 20 infants with severe feeding difficulties and airway concerns learn to feed by mouth. Successful feeders were sent home without the need for feeding tubes.
These infants were referred to the Neonatal and Infant Feeding Disorders Program for evaluation and management of their severe feeding concerns. Previous research has shown that nearly two out of 10 babies experience difficulty feeding, often resulting in significant medical bills and extended hospital stays. In the United States, approximately 13 percent of all infants, and 26 percent of premature infants experience swallowing dysfunction.
Aside from the improved quality of life, this study resulted in an estimated savings of $1.8 million in health care costs for the participants related to gastric feeding tubes (G-tubes). It has been estimated that the health care costs for children on G-tubes is nearly $50,000 per patient for the first year, about the cost of one year's tuition at a major ivy-league university.
"Any infant that fails to feed orally is considered to have feeding difficulty," said Sudarshan Jadcherla, MD, FRCPI, DCH, AGAF, Nationwide Children's Hospital neonatologist and principal investigator in the Center for Perinatal Research, medical director of the Neonatal and Infant Feeding Disorders Program at Nationwide Children's and lead author of the study. Dr. Jadcherla is funded by the National Institutes of Health to study the mechanisms of feeding disorders in infants.
Symptoms of feeding difficulties include difficulty breathing
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Nationwide Children's Hospital