If your child has a feeding or swallowing problem, talk with your primary care physician. Depending on the severity of the problem, the child may be referred to a physician that specializes in the evaluation of feeding problems, a speech-language pathologist, an occupational therapist, a registered dietitian, and/or a lactation consultant.
A speech-language pathologist can perform a clinical oral-motor and feeding evaluation to help evaluate the problem and see if there is a need for treatment or further assessment.
A VSS (video fluoroscopic swallowing study), also known as a modified barium swallow, may be suggested. A VSS is done by a speech-language pathologist and a radiologist. An X-ray video is taken of the child’s throat while he or she is eating and drinking. The examiners evaluate the safety and efficiency of swallow. They can also detect aspiration and other problems with swallowing function. Techniques to modify the way the child swallows can be introduced during the VSS to see what may help with swallowing issues.
A FEES (fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of the swallow) study may also be suggested. This study is done with an ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor and a speech-language pathologist. In involves putting a small tube (scope) through the child’s nose to the back of the throat so that the structures and muscle function can be watched directly during swallowing. This study allows observation of the child’s ability to protect the airway from secretions, liquids and solids during swallowing.