Etiology of Feeding Disorders

The etiology of feeding disorders is often multifactorial, and cases in which a single cause operates in isolation are rare (Burklow et al. 1998; Manikam and Perman 2000). In fact, almost two-thirds of children with feeding disorders present with mixed etiologies, with behavioral, physiological, and developmental factors contributing to the difficulties (Budd et al. 1992). At a simple level, the feeding process requires the child to accept food into his or her mouth and then chew, swallow, and digest the food. Medical and behavioral issues can arise at various points along this process, contributing to the diversity of causes and presentations of feeding problems. For organizational purposes, the discussion of the potential causes of feeding problems in this chapter is divided into structural, neurological and physiological, and behavioral causes. Although presented separately, these contributing factors often interact and require multicomponent intervention strategies.

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