Disabled children suffer not only from their primary disease, but also from other complications, including food refusal. The purpose of this study was to elucidate the relationship between these conditions and food refusal in disabled children. The effectiveness of feeding therapy in treating food refusal was also examined. The study subjects were 67 disabled children (35 boys and 32 girls; mean age at initial examination: 6.5 years, SD: 6.0 years) who attended the Nippon Dental University Hospital between April 2004 and August 2008. Of them, the 13 subjects who were diagnosed as those who refused food received feeding therapy combined with desensitization therapy for hypersensitivity. Approximately 20% of the subjects showed food refusal symptoms. Primary disease, respiratory impairment and gastroesophageal reflux were not causes of food refusal in this population. There was a significant relationship between food refusal and hypersensitivity (p = 0.021). After receiving feeding therapy, six of the seven subjects with hypersensitivity but without dysphagia at initial examination recovered from food refusal. Food refusal did not significantly correlate with tube feeding. Hypersensitivity and/or tube feeding may induce food refusal. For subjects with these conditions, feeding therapy combined with desensitization therapy is effective in achieving recovery from food refusal.


Feeding therapy, Food Refusal, Disabled Children, Orofacial Myology, Dysphagia