Pediatric Dysphagia: Physiology, Assessment, and Management

By: Pamela Dodrill and Memorie M. Gosa

Infancy and childhood represent a time of unparalleled physical growth and cognitive development. In order for infants and children to reach their linear and neurological growth potential, they must be able to reliably and safely consume sufficient energy and nutrients. Swallowing difficulties (dysphagia) in pediatric populations can have a detrimental effect on dietary intake and, thus, growth and development. As a result, it is imperative to accurately identify and appropriately manage dysphagia in pediatric populations. This article provides an overview of dysphagia in children, as well as common causes of childhood swallowing difficulties, populations at risk for pediatric dysphagia, techniques used to assess swallowing in pediatric patients, and the current treatment options available for infants and children with dysphagia.

The article “Pediatric Dysphagia: Physiology, Assessment, and Management” by: Pamela Dodrill and Memorie M. Gosa prevails the following key Messages:

  • Swallowing difficulties can have a detrimental effect on pulmonary health and can also impact nutritional intake;
  • It is estimated that swallowing difficulties occur in approximately 1% of children in the general population, though the incidence rate is much higher in some clinical populations; and
  • Common instrumental assessment for children suspected of dysphagia includes videofluoroscopic swallow study and fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallow. Common management strategies include the use of thickened fluids for children with demonstrated aspiration of thin fluids.


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