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Pediatric Feeding and Swallowing Disorders After Bone Marrow Transplant

Buringrud, Jessica L. MA, CCC-SLP; Redle, Erin E. PhD, CCC-SLP; Cowen, Sarah E. MA, CCC-SLP

Journal of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology: August 2012 - Volume 34 - Issue 6 - p 436–441
doi: 10.1097/MPH.0b013e31826224af
Original Articles

Reduced oral intake is a known complication of bone marrow transplant (BMT) and may result in short-term tube feedings. Although most children return to typical eating habits, a subgroup of children requires intervention. The focus of the current investigation was to retrospectively identify the incidence and characteristics of feeding and swallowing disorders in pediatric patients during the first 100 days after BMT and to determine what factors contribute to feeding/swallowing disorders past the BMT acute phase (100+ d). The charts of 292 sequential patients undergoing BMT were reviewed. Seventy-two children (25%) were referred for feeding and/or swallowing intervention with a mean age of 78.6 months (SD=±63.4). Sixteen patients underwent instrumental evaluation with swallowing dysfunction identified in 50% (n=8) of the patients. Oral-motor dysfunction was reported in 33% (n=24) and feeding disorders occurred in 61% (n=44) of the patients referred for treatment. This single-institution review describes the impact of this interruption in the first 100 days after transplant on feeding and swallowing and determined what factors place a child at an increased risk for requiring tube feeding for 100+ days after transplant. The type of BMT, the use of a tube during the first 100 days, and the age were all significant predictors of requiring a tube when considered together for the individual patient. Children who do not require a tube in the first 100 days are significantly less likely to require one in future, approximately 85% less likely to require one whereas children receiving an autologous transplant are approximately 70% less likely to require a tube than children receiving an allogenic transplant. Providers should consider an intervention for younger children undergoing BMT to help maintain or facilitate the development of their feeding and swallowing skills. This may lead to improved feeding outcome in the pediatric BMT population.

*Division of Speech Pathology, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

Department of Communication Disorders, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Jessica L. Buringrud, MA, CCC-SLP, Division of Speech Pathology, MLC 4011, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, 3333 Burnett Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45229 (e-mail:

Received October 5, 2010

Accepted March 27, 2012

Copyright © 2012 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.