Child Center: New Child Eating Disorder Program
The purpose of the Program is to establish the adequate diagnosis and treatment of these cases, for which Clínica Alemana has implemented a broad, multi-discipline team.
It is not uncommon to hear parents saying that their children eat very little or that they reject some foods. Most of the times, such situations do not result in a significant impact on the health of the child; in other cases, however, it can pose a threat to his/her growth and development.
In order to establish the adequate diagnosis and treatment of these cases, Clínica Alemana created the Child Eating Disorder Program, which operates at the Child Center, Clínica Alemana La Dehesa.
Doctor Vivian Rybertt, child nutritionist in charge of this initiative, explains that up to 50% of parents ask their doctors about difficulties associated to eating on the part of their children; for the most part, though, these are behaviors to be expected among 18-month and six-year-olds. “Nevertheless, when such disorders persist over time or result in family or social stress, with a risk of compromising the growth and development of the child, then we talk about a child suffering from an eating disorder, which happens in 5% of the cases,” she said.
The manner in which each patient is managed will depend on the type of disorder detected, since such disorders may present themselves in different forms. Thus, depending on the diagnosis, the steps to be taken may vary from working with the parents so that they implement a healthy eating style at home, to the indication of psychotherapy or psychiatric management.
The purpose of this Program driven by Clínica Alemana is to address this problem based on a multi-discipline approach, seeking the optimal recovery of the child’s nutritional condition and eating behavior. To this end, the team includes a nutritionist, a psychologist, an occupational therapist, a speech and hearing specialist, a psychiatrist and a dietist.
Types of child eating difficulties:
• Limited appetite: in such cases, children eat little and show scarce interest in consuming foods.
• Fear of eating: rejection of food after a traumatic experience, such as choking, vomiting or pain.
• Emotional rejection of foods: children refusal of food associated to attachment problems, anxiety or mood disorders.
• Selective eating: children reject certain foods. This may be due to a sensorial aversion, i.e., rejection due to texture, taste, color or temperature of the product to be consumed.