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Selective Eating… A New Disorder?

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Is your child a picky eater? Research suggests that up to 20% of parents describe their young children as selective eaters. Is this just normal childhood behavior? Or is it something to be concerned about?

Many children balk at eating vegetables or other foods, and parents may assume that they will just grow out of it. However, research shows that selective eating habits may be associated with underlying problems.

A recent study published in Pediatrics investigated 917 children aged 24-71 months. Researchers found that children with moderate or severely selective eating habits were at higher risk of depression, social anxiety, and generalized anxiety. Severely selective eaters were more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression.

The researchers concluded that even moderate selective eating calls for intervention, since selective eating affects health, growth, social functioning, and parent-child relationships.

In fact, selective eating that affects functioning is now termed a disorder—avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID)—in the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder.

Interventions include traditional therapy. But new interventions also need to be developed, because for some children picky eating is related to their heightened sensitivity to taste and texture.

When do you need to worry about your child’s picky eating, and what should you do? Start by checking with your doctor!

Read the study at: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2015/07/28/peds.2014-2386.abstract


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