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Early Childhood Feeding Problems Tied to Developmental Delays

Authors say young children with multiple eating problems may benefit from screening for developmental delay

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 1, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Feeding problems in early childhood are linked to a higher chance for developmental delay, according to a study published online Nov. 10 in The Journal of Pediatrics.

Diane L. Putnick, Ph.D., from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Bethesda, Maryland, and colleagues used data from the mothers of 3,597 children to assess if feeding problems are an indicator of developmental delay.

The researchers found that in adjusted analyses, feeding problems were increasingly associated with six Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) domains from 18 months (odds ratios [ORs] ranged from 1.30 to 1.98 per point increase) to 24 months (ORs: 2.07 to 2.69) to 30 months (ORs: 3.90 to 5.64). Children who experienced high feeding problems at one or two time points were more than twice as likely to fail all ASQ domains (ORs: 2.10 to 2.50) versus children who never experienced feeding problems, while children who experienced high feeding problems at all three time points were four or more times as likely to fail all ASQ domains (ORs: 3.94 to 5.05). Children who at 30 months scored 1 point higher in feeding problems scored 3 to 4 points lower on all Battelle Developmental Inventory-2 domains at 4 years.

“Frequent feeding problems, especially those that persist into the third year, could be used to identify children at risk for developmental delay for more targeted screening,” the authors write.

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