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Sensory Processing Difficulties in Toddlers With Nonorganic Failure-to-Thrive and Feeding Problems.

OBJECTIVES: Failure-to-thrive is defined as an abnormally low weight and/or height for age. The term "nonorganic failure-to-thrive" (NOFT) has been used to describe "failure-to-thrive" without an obvious cause underlying the growth failure. The purpose of the present study was to compare sensory processing abilities between toddlers with NOFT and feeding problems and age-matched controls.

METHODS: Toddlers with NOFT and feeding problems (N = 16) were recruited from the pediatric feeding clinic in a tertiary university hospital, and age-matched controls (N = 16) were recruited from community volunteers. They were evaluated for sensory processing ability using an Infant/Toddler Sensory Profile (ITSP), and for development of cognition, motor skills, and language using the Bayley Scales of Infant Development II and Sequenced Language Scale for Infants. Behavior at mealtime was evaluated using the Behavioral Pediatrics Feeding Assessment Scale.

RESULTS: In the NOFT with feeding problems group, atypical performances were more frequently observed in 3 of 5 ITSP section items (tactile, vestibular, and oral) compared with those in the control group. Significant delayed development of cognition, motor skills, and language was observed in the NOFT with feeding problems group compared with that in the control group. In addition, children who showed 1 or more atypical performances in ITSP had delayed development in cognition, motor skills, and language.

CONCLUSIONS: Sensory processing problems were more commonly observed in toddlers with feeding problems and growth deficiency. The present study could provide a preliminary evidence for a possible impact of the sensory processing problems on the feeding difficulties in toddlers with NOFT. Future large studies should be conducted to clarify the relation between sensory processing difficulties and feeding problems in toddlers.

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