Socialization opportunities missed if child is unable to eat

October 10, 1997|By Kate Coleman

From a cultural standpoint, most life events involve eating, according to Dr. Cathleen Piazza, director of the Pediatric Feeding Disorders Program at Baltimore's Kennedy Krieger Institute and associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University.

Opportunities for socialization are missed when a child cannot eat, and a child's emotional development can be affected. Parents can be devastated by not being able to nurture their child in the normal manner.

Feeding disorders affect nearly 25 percent of all infants and children, and up to 80 percent of youngsters with developmental disabilities, according to a Kennedy Krieger program brochure. A primary goal of the program is to set nutritional feeding patterns that can be maintained by the family at home.

The program, established more than 10 years ago, claims to be the first to combine gastroenterology with behavioral psychology. Therapy is individualized for each child's specific and carefully assessed needs.


Care can include the attention of physicians and nurses, nutritionists, psychologists, physical, speech and occupational therapists and social workers.

Reliance on feeding tubes for the rest of their lives is the only alternative for many children, according to Piazza.

Kennedy Krieger professionals are working to help people understand that being unable to eat is not inconsequential, Piazza says.

The work done in the program is very arduous, Piazza says. She also says it is incredibly rewarding.

"You have an opportunity to make such a big difference in somebody's life."


For information, call Kennedy Krieger Institute at 1-888-554-2080, or 1-410-502-9400.

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