Infant Difficulty Sucking, Eating, or Swallowing

One of the reasons that WIC provides peer counselors for breastfeeding is because it’s important that children show healthy signs of eating from day one. A WIC peer counselor may serve the purpose of a coach to help encourage you to keep trying when babies don’t latch, but they also may serve the purpose of a paid medical professional gauging your child’s sucking, eating, or swallowing reflexes to make sure that they’re in order. This is important to monitor even through toddler-hood to ensure that your child is developing normally. If your child has a sucking, eating, or swallowing problem, be sure to consult your physician immediately. There may be a few reasons for what this is a symptom of.

Cerebral Palsy

Problems with sucking, eating, or swallowing is one of the many symptoms of cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy appears to be a muscular disorder but is really a form of brain damage that interferes with the normal use of the patient’s muscles, and because of that, children with cerebral palsy often have a hard time using the muscle functions required to eat. If they don’t have these problems immediately, they can often develop these problems into childhood as they often don’t have control over their muscles or posture and thus create digestive problems depending on the placement of their organs in relation to their skeletal system. Often children with cerebral palsy are malnourished because they have difficulty with sucking, eating, or swallowing, and they have a hard time controlling their arms for fine muscle movement, so it is very challenging for them to take food to their mouth to begin with. Cerebral palsy can be diagnosed from a CT scan or an MRI.

Brain Hemorrhage

Difficulty sucking, eating, or swallowing is a symptom of cerebral palsy which is a form of brain damage, but it’s also a form of a brain hemorrhage, a kind of brain damage that involves a bleed in the brain. In a hemorrhage, there has been a brain bleed caused by a burst vessel and the flooding of the blood in the brain causes other vessels to essentially drown and die. Other symptoms of a brain hemorrhage include lethargy, loss of consciousness, nausea or vomiting, weakness in one arm or leg, and seizures. A brain hemorrhage can be diagnosed from a CT scan or an MRI.

Watch Out:

Tip 1: If your child has been diagnosed with another birth injury such as cerebral palsy, it’s especially important that you speak with a dietician regarding your child’s nutrition. Often children with difficulty sucking, eating, or swallowing have a hard time getting enough food down to properly keep their body in good health and have to take additional supplements.

Tip 2: If your child has sucking, eating, or swallowing problems as a symptom of a birth injury, be sure that your physician is familiar with your child’s inhibitions. Sometimes anesthesiologists find additional challenges and health concerns for children with this symptom and need to administer a different kind of anesthesia that doesn’t put them at so much risk.