Some infants and childen with an omphalocele experience feeding issues as a result of being tube fed and/or having reflux. (a feeding tube is a medical device used to provide nutrition to patients who cannot obtain nutrition by swallowing.)
Feeding issues must be addressed for numerous reasons. Aside from fulfilling the need for sustenance, meal times also provide a backdrop for children to learn socialization skills and expand their opportunities to communicate. Since eating is central to so much human interaction, children experiencing difficulty feeding may miss tremendous opportunities for both social and language development.
Things you can do:
Caregivers looking to remedy feeding problems can put together a team of individuals to implement a feeding treatment plan. (Parents should lead the team since they are their child’s best advocates.) The person’s physician should be included if she or he knows the individual’s overall health (particularly the gastrointestinal tract) and can assist with allergic reactions and medications. A speech-language pathologist (SLP), trained specifically in feeding issues can assess the readiness of a person to eat, discuss the management of food, and deal with an array of feeding issues.
Occupational and physical therapists can also be consulted if the person needs adaptive devices or assistance with positioning while feeding. A nutritionist can assist in determining the caloric intake and output and establish the quantity and types of food necessary for good nutrition. A dentist is an excellent addition to the team if the individual has dental issues. A teacher, aide, or anyone else who is going to feed the person should also be included so that they may follow the feeding plan.
The team should discuss feeding issues which may include the initiation of oral feeding, food sensitivities, testing for gastroesophageal reflux, tube feeding, and diet.
Here is a list of online resources for feeding issues, reflux and feeding clinics across North America: