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Dysphagia is difficulty with any of the stages of feeding and swallowing.

  • Preparation phase: getting food into the mouth.

  • Oral phase: chewing and moving food or liquid to the back of the mouth.

  • Pharyngeal: moving food or liquid down the throat and closing off airway to prevent choking.

  • Esophageal phase: opening and closing of the end of the feeding tube and moving food from the esophagus into the stomach.

A child with dysphagia may refuse food, have excessive leaking of food out of their mouth during meals, or demonstrate excessive coughing and gagging. Children with dysphagia may have poor nutrition and weight gain. Reoccurring respiratory infections may also be present due to aspiration. Feeding and swallowing disorders may be caused by autism, premature birth, nervous system disturbance (cerebral palsy), cleft palate, or structural abnormality of the head or neck. An evaluation by a speech-language pathologist can help determine a treatment plan for feeding techniques to support safe swallowing and efficient eating. Reference and Resources:

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