The Infant Feeding Disorders Program at Nationwide Children’s Hospital is dedicated to improving the quality of life for infants through the development of personalized, feeding management strategies based on clinical and transitional research. Our advanced care optimizes the outcomes for infants with feeding disorders, allowing them to go home sooner, while lowering readmission rates.
Oral feeding is often difficult for babies hospitalized in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) and current techniques used to evaluate neonatal feeding disorders are largely subjective. In response to this growing difficulty, our physician-scientists are using innovative approaches to find and treat the cause of feeding difficulty in developing infants. Our program is the only one of its kind, testing the sensory-motor aspects of reflexes in premature infants in activity or sleep, and in health or in disease. The crib-side research efforts lead us to define newer clinical and translational strategies in these vulnerable infants.
For every baby diagnosed with a feeding disorder, the ultimate goal is full oral feeds. The first step toward that goal is a multi-modal diagnostic study, with a feeding evaluation and radiologic and motility studies. The second step is the development of a rational, therapeutic strategy, with help from a team of specialists–an occupational therapist, nutritionist, neonatologist, nurse and patient care assistant–working together with the family.
Our program cares for babies between newborn and 6 months of age that are presently inpatients, or have recently been released from other NICUs and demonstrate the following conditions:
Acid reflux (GERD)
Suspected gastrointestinal motility problems
Perinatal neurological illness
Based on an initial inpatient feeding consultation, a baby can become part of Nationwide Children’s feeding disorders study, to diagnose his or her feeding problems. Results of this study determine the next steps, which may include:
Esophageal pH and impedance
Evaluation and management of swallowing problems
The program coordinates experts from various divisions of the hospital, including:
Our experts work to prevent, predict, diagnose and treat feeding-related disorders for high-risk infants admitted to the NICU. Most importantly, the program strives to prevent future developmental issues, allowing premature babies to “catch up” faster.
We designed our new Feeding Enhancement Program to streamline the feeding process for premature babies and help them learn to feed sooner and with fewer complications. Weekly “feeding rounds” in our main campus NICUs incorporate parents, as our team evaluates each baby’s feeding capabilities, closely follows milestones, identifies risk factors that may delay feeding skills, and addresses any anxieties about feeding the baby.
Sudarshan R. Jadcherla, MD, a member of the Section of Neonatology at Nationwide Children’s and a Professor of pediatrics at the Ohio State University College of Medicine, is dedicated to finding and curing the causes of feeding problems in infants. He is the Director of the Neonatal and Infant Feeding Disorders program. His clinical and translational research aims to define the mechanisms behind feeding failure and compromised airways in developing infants, paving the way for evidence-based diagnosis and therapeutic intervention.
Call the Physician Direct Connect Line toll free at (877) 355-0221, for physician consults and to coordinate a patient transport, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
For more information about the Neonatal and Infant Feeding Disorders Program
and its breakthrough research, please call (614) 722-5155.