Children with Post-Traumatic Feeding Disorder display fear and intense resistance to either eating solid foods or, if infants, drinking from the bottle. In more severe cases, they may refuse to eat or drink altogether.
The child’s refusal to eat or drink is often a result of a prior incidence of choking, severe gagging, repeated vomiting, force feeding or surgical interventions of the oral pharynx. Reminders of the traumatic event frequently cause intense distress, which may lead to fearful reactions from the child when positioned for feedings and presented with feeding utensils and food. These reminders sometimes even lead to gagging and vomiting.
Children with a Post-Traumatic Feeding Disorder resist being fed by crying, arching their back and refusing to open their mouth. If they take or are given any food, they will intensely resist swallowing, may actively spit it out, or store it in their cheeks and spit it out later.
In children with Post-Traumatic Feeding Disorder, the fear of eating seems to override any awareness of hunger. In severe cases, these children who refuse all foods and liquids require acute medical intervention to prevent dehydration and starvation. Even in less severe cases, these children benefit from professional intervention to help them overcome their fear of eating.