Feeding Tubes: Not Just a Luxury for Kids with Special Needs

Posted On: Apr 16, 2012

A sensational story on brides going to extremes to lose weight before their weddings—by receiving calories through a temporary feeding tube—is receiving national publicity this week. It’s also prompting negative reactions among the public (Do you have thoughts? Share them below in the “Comments” section).

As a hospital serving children with complex medical conditions, Gillette sees hundreds of patients that rely on feeding tubes for a completely different reason—the delivery of essential calories and nutrients. In many cases, these children have disabilities that make it difficult to take in adequate nourishment or attain a healthful weight. In another danger, some children can aspirate during feedings—inhaling food or liquid into their lungs.

Before Avery received her g-tube, she struggled to receive adequate nutrients.

Three-year-old Gillette patient Avery Saari was born with congenital CMV, or cytomegalovirus, a condition that causes seizures, neurological delays, and other serious issues. Avery struggled to get adequate nutrients due to the reflux caused by CMV, and was diagnosed with failure to thrive at 18 months old. Tests also revealed that Avery would aspirate liquids she took by mouth. “Doctors said this could lead to choking or even pneumonia,” her mom, Jodi Saari, recalls.

Jodi describes an incredible transformation following the placement of Avery’s g-tube. “At her 18 month doctor’s appointment, Avery’s weight was in the 3rd percentile.  By her 2 year appointment, she was in the 85th percentile!”

Today, Avery weights a healthy 47 pounds. She, and her parents, couldn’t be happier.

At Gillette’s Feeding Clinic, our specialists work closely with patients who are experiencing feeding challenges. We help children develop and improve their feeding skills through therapy, and support families as they determine if a feeding tube may help their child thrive.  Whether a child receives nutrients by feeding tube, by traditional feedings or a combination of both, our goal is to keep mealtimes a positive, and stress-free, experience for families.