Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL


December 21, 2009

Picky Eaters

Having trouble getting your children to eat right?

Does your child attempt to subsist on Goldfish crackers and Cheerios?

Does your child express fear when offered a new food?

People like Cheri Fraker and Alicia Hart may be able to help.

Fraker, a therapist with the Center for Selective Eating and Pediatric Feeding Disorders at Koke Mill Medical Center in Springfield, and Hart, Family and Resource Coordinator at the Autism Program in Charleston, gave a presentation on picky eating recently at Helen Matthes Library in Effingham.

With the help of a PowerPoint presentation, Fraker gave the handful of parents in attendance some ideas on why their child might be a picky eater.

Fraker said picky eating manifests itself in a number of ways.

“They might not be getting enough liquid, or they may only be eating limited food groups,” she said.

“Other children have problems tolerating foods with multiple textures.”

Fraker said the vast majority of picky eaters have a medical condition that makes eating a variety of foods painful.

“Only 3 percent of our patients have behavioral feeding problems,” she said. “The rest are bio-behavioral.

“There’s something wrong with them like acid reflux or a swallowing issue.”

But Fraker said the prognosis is good, with the right kind of treatment. She is a member of an interdisciplinary team that treats more than 500 children per year, some from as far away at Italy and Turkey. Other team members include a pediatrician who specializes in gastrointestinal disorders, other specialist physicians, pediatric dietitian, various types of therapists and nurses, and psychology and social work professionals.

“It takes a team to treat a child,” Fraker said.

Fraker said feeding disorders begin in infancy. Some of the early-warning signs include the inability to swallow saliva, liquid spilling from mouth, the inability of the baby’s lips to seal around a nipple, and the inability of cheeks to help move food in mouth.

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