Feeding and eating disorder in infancy or early childhood is indicated by the failure of an infant or a child under say seven years, to eat well in order to grow normally and gain some weight over some period of time. This disorder can also be displayed by a significant weight loss over the same period of time. The feeling of a failure to achieve something is comparable to this disorder of feeding; however, there has not been enough medical or physiological explanation of the low intake of food or the slow growth rate.
Children or infants with feeding disorder do not adequately grow; or rather lose a lot of weight without a proper medical explanation. These children do not take in enough energy or nutrients necessary for supporting growth and may be apathetic or irritable in that sense. Different factors contribute to the lack of feeding or weight loss in general. Some of the factors that result to increase of feeding disorder include the inability of reading the hunger of a child, poor nurturing and failure to read the satiety cues correctly, mental illness in parents, or poverty. Success treatments include proper dietary requirements, psychological interventions by different people in health professions, behavioral and social monitoring and change.
This topic has been studied by different scholars for quite some time. However, it is the medical professionals who have made quite some mark in this particular research. The recorded data have indicated that anorexia nervosa gives the clinical evidence, providing data for classifications, especially because of the fact that etiology of the disorders remains unclear. The information collection on the attitude of the children towards the shape of their bodies and intake of food are precisely the environmental and the development factors that may be the leading cause of eating disorders.
Children refuse to take food due to different reasons, including the taste of the food, sight aversion, lack of appetite, interest in other activities for instance play. However, this type of refusal seldomly lasts long. According to the previous research, children and infants from an early age are capable of controlling their intake habits and normal growth, if they are provided with proper emotional assistance and guidance required. According to Berk, (2009), a researcher, newly born infants between the ages of six to eight months, when given natural food, for instance fruits, whole grains, eggs, fish, vegetables or even meat could feed themselves and grow healthy and normally. A similar sentiment was echoed by a fellow scholar Birch et al. who noticed a similar behavior in Children between the ages of two to five years. However, it was found that the individual intake varied according to the different meals taken, nonetheless, the total intake of energy was more or less constant for every child in the study, especially since every child tended to adjust the energy requirements after every other meal taken. In the western society, young children are more influenced by the prevailing cultures and values about body shape and food. According to Worsley, a ten year old boy in Australia underwent first a period of fattening and then shifted to healthy traits of food before lastly expressing other preferences. In Britain, school girls between the ages of twelve and twenty years, twenty six percent of premenarchal girls compared to girls who were in puberty, all hailing from middle income families showed lack of healthy growth due to malnutrition due to self-imposed rules or intake of calories arising out of fear of being obese. After precise sessions of counseling, the youngsters started to take appropriate diets that led to normal growth, and improvement in the health indicators.
Studies of adolescent children on the other side have shown quite a different picture in the western Hemisphere. A recent study conducted in the upper middle class of white children indicates that about 45% wanted to be thinner and 25% had attempted different methods of losing weight and becoming thinner. However, the common method of losing weight was through losing their overall level of activity. A lot of newspapers and journals have conveyed the idea of children concentrating on their weight and increase in dieting. The wall Street Journal reported that approximately 80% of the girls in fourth grade complained of being overweight, Newsweek showed an excerpt, that about half of the girls in fourth grade in a school in San Francisco described themselves as being overweight, despite the fact that only 10% were considered overweight. Of the students who were interviewed, 30% of the nine year olds thought they were too fat with about half of them admitting to be on diet.
Now using the above statistics, it is clearly evidence that premenarchal girls were less satisfied with body parts compared to the girls in the postmenarchal periods. In this comparison, postmenarchal and premenarchal girls with regards to subjective measures of body shape and size, some differences were observed. The Premenarchal girls thought that their thighs were a little too big for them compared to their counterparts. This group tended to assume peculiar feeding habits in order to fit in the ideal body shape that they wanted this prompted them to diet even the more, procrastinate meals and even indulge in other weight reducing mechanisms like exercises and even taking supplement pills. In both groups though, a similar history was evidenced in their dissatisfaction of body weight and size.
Now how do you know that a child has a feeding disorder? Different parameters are available that could indicate this, however, the simplest of them all includes the inability of a child to swallow food of a certain taste, smell or texture, the attempt of swallowing may result to vomiting, gagging, choking or other things associated with eating. The children start to react indifferent at the time of eating, and refuse to eat ultimately. Other symptoms include inability to chew, vomit or even spit at the time of eating. This should not be confused by the inability of the child to eat due to common feeding problems, it may be due to the fact of their picky nature, but have a good and healthy diet. In a disorder, these children have completely assumed a particular group of foods, liquids or textures of food that are important for the development and growth of human beings (Berk, 2009). These children develop a change in behavior drastically, and in most cases feels socially isolated.
There are different problems associated with these feeding disorders, some of them include psychological and medical conditions including, oral-motor dysfunction, failure to thrive, food allergies, prematurity, behavioral management problems and gastrointestinal motility disorders. A child who is suffering from malnutrition could be permanently developing a mental and physical condition, and this needs early treatment. Again feeding disorders like anorexia, or eating too little is common. Anorexia is considered an emotional disorder that is characterized by obsessive desire to cut weight through lack of eating or lack of appetite. Its symptoms include distorted body image, and a fear of gaining weight. Bulimia on the other hand is an emotional disorder that is usually caused by distorted body image; it is caused by the same desire of weight loss. Most of the people who have this suffer from depression after eating.
Now, there is no quick cure of a feeding disorder in children and infants, however it depends on the condition. Different steps can be used to cure this disorder. They include, increasing the amount of calories and the amount of fluids. Some of the medical interventions that could be used include finding out the psychological problems that the patient has, this will need the patient to be hospitalized for quite some time. Different professionals may be used, cutting across the different fields for instance, physicians, psychologists and dietitians, and the best results can be observed when the different treatments are geared towards modification of behaviors.
Berk, Laura E. (2009). Development Through the Lifespan. Pearson College Div.
Daniel Le Grange, J. L. (2011). Eating Disorders in Children and Adolescents: A Clinical Handbook. Guilford Press.
Janette B. Benson, M. M. (2009). Diseases and Disorders in Infancy and Early Childhood. Academic Press.
Peter J. Cooper, A. S. (2013). Childhood Feeding Problems and Adolescent Eating Disorders. Routledge.