Abstract (Summary)
This project tests the hypothesis that full-term infants and toddlers who are deprived of oral feedings during the first 3-months (13 weeks) of life show altered physiologic responses to touch. Such children often suffer from Failure-to-Thrive of the "Mixed" type (MFTT). This hypothesis developed from a clinical conundrum—the frequent observation that although such infants may have a variety of medical diagnoses, they share a common profile of difficulty tolerating touch. Because normal oral feeding requires tolerance for the touch of a spoon or food in the mouth, along with the touch of a parent's arms, etc. touch intolerance can directly result in interference with oral feeding skills. The MFTT group of children also shares a clinical history of oral deprivation as a result of medically necessary tube feedings. Typically, this fact has not been considered significant within the medical profession. However, several converging lines of evidence in the literature of psychology, neurobiology and neonatology suggest that early oral deprivation can result in aberrant neurophysiological development. This study compares the responses to touch (firm pressure) of a group of MFTT children and a matched control group of children with a normal medical history. Children were examined for response to touch along a hierarchy of body points (e.g. legs, trunk, lips, etc.) and responses were assessed through state behavior changes and/or abnormal gag reflex responses. A chi-square analysis revealed that the group of MFTT children showed response patterns to firm pressure that significantly differed from the normal control group. These response patterns confirmed the original clinical observation and suggest that a history of early oral deprivation can result in aberrant response to touch. These findings have significant implications for the current understanding of physiologic development, the identification of specific behavioral manifestations within the feeding/swallowing population, and the prevention of feeding difficulties in this vulnerable population. Further, the results of this study challenge us to critically review current intervention models.
Bibliographical Information:


School:University of Cincinnati

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:feeding disorders developmental neurophysiology tactile sensory development


Date of Publication:01/01/2002

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