Why are Swallow Studies so Important?

I learned something new today… 

One of the first questions I ask moms who reach out to me with feeding issues is, “have you had a swallow study performed on your child?” Typically I ask this question, because you need to know if your child has a “suck, swallow, breathe” issue or if there is something more complicated going on. Today I learned, if a baby has a swallow study performed early, like Coldon did, and pass with no problems; as they grow and their anatomy moves, they can develop complications such as aspiration. Makes sense…

Coldon recently did a follow-up swallow study today, as we have been concerned about aspiration; he continues to choke often when drinking liquids and taking bottles. He also suffers from reflux and since having his G-tube removed it has been out of control, which can also contribute to aspiration. The swallow study confirmed he is aspirating when he drinks thin liquids like water, but thankfully he did really well with formula, purées and solids. I’m glad our ENT ordered another swallow study; we wouldn’t have known if he was or wasn’t aspirating. I can’t stress enough the importance of finding at least one doctor or therapist who is proactive and very knowledgeable about Down syndrome, or the condition your child was diagnosed with. For us, our occupational therapist and ENT are those people. I remain informed because of them!

After the swallow study was completed, I was given tips and recommendations of how to work with Coldon to teach him how to drink thin liquids and not aspirate. If your child is having any kind of feeding difficulties, Feeding therapy is an incredibly important tool for their success of becoming “good eaters.”  Therapists can to teach you how to work with your child and can give them the greatest opportunity of becoming a successful eater. Yes, there are therapist for babies and its at the younger ages when being able to drink from a bottle, then transition to solids, is the most critical period for your child’s eating development. There are even oral motor exercises used to improve the endurance and coordination of a child’s mouth, lips and tongue. If you aren’t sure how to go about receiving feeding therapy, contact your local early intervention organizations. They can point you in the right direction.

If you have any questions about feeding or swallow studies, please feel free to email me!

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