Chronic Feeding Problems

Principal Investigator: Suzanne Thoyre, PhD, RN, FAAN
Funded by: National Institutes of Nursing Research

It is not uncommon for infants who spend time in neonatal intensive care units (NICU) — whether due to illness or prematurity — to struggle with developmental complications such as feeding. For some, that problematic feeding issue will escalate into a full-blown chronic feeding disorder that continues into childhood and jeopardizes health. Detecting symptoms indicative of a disorder early on and finding ways to manage those symptoms could improve outcomes.

Suzanne Thoyre is working to identify and recognize the early signs of feeding disorders before they progress into worsening problems. By following a group of former NICU babies for two years, and assessing their feeding skills, behaviors and family environments, she is finding the link between early symptoms of problematic feeding and the subsequent behaviors that signal a disorder. Such discovery will lead to targeted interventions that can bypass bigger problems before they start and improve the health outcomes for these children.