Why placing a tube?
If an infant or small child doesn´t want to or cannot eat and there is a corresponding medical indication, a feeding tube makes sense. This is the only way to ensure that the child has the vital nutrients supply.
The feeding tube becomes problematic when the child continues to refuse oral feeding after the medical needs have expired. This is particularly true for premature babies or infants who have had to undergo postpartum surgery. Due to their special health conditions, they have not been able to learn how to eat like other children of the same age and often have to struggle with massive developmental delays.
What's the feeding tube problem?
When an infant or young child is dependent on enteral feeding through a nasogastric, gastrostomy, or jejunal tube for an extended period of time, emotional and physical tube dependency or tube dependency can be developped. Tube dependency is therefore an iatrogenically influenced disorder that puts both child and parents under a great emotional pressure.
Nevertheless, the topic of tube dependency still receives very little attention in medical and developmental psychological research. For this reason, many physicians insert a tube when indicated for weeks or months - but without the appropriate psychotherapeutic support. Also, the parents are rarely given any perspective about how long the tube will be in place and when it will be removed.
Many of the feeding tubes are placed with a clear indication for defined period, but often without any specific therapeutic support or an removal outlined strategy.
Side effects of feeding tube dependency
Because tube feeding is not a natural form of feeding, many children experience excessive vomiting or retching of food. In addition, many have to contend with a dislodged tube or stomach acid rising up into the esophagus. Skin irritation and inflammation often may occur.
Above all, besides of most children have a reduced oral autonomy because they have usually not learned to feed themselves, they are also unaware of a hunger or satiety feeling. It is not uncommon for them to react to feeding attempts with massive resistance.
For this reason, a specialized treatment is needed for the children and the parents.
Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash