Healthy At Home: Preventing Aspiration in Children

Amy Long Carrera, MS, RD, CNSC, CWCMS
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
08/10/12  8:32 PM PST
Preventing Aspiration in Children

Being at home with a new child can be stressful, especially if there is a history of feeding intolerance or reflux. Aspiration in children is a serious and common issue and parents or caregivers should be aware of the signs and symptoms.

Preventing Aspiration in Children

Aspiration occurs when solid foods or liquids enter the airway and lungs. While there may be observable signs that accompany aspiration events such as coughing, choking, eye reddening, or wet vocal quality after swallowing, infants and children can also aspirate silently, or with no observable symptoms.

Techniques for prevention include:

• Keep the child’s head elevated >30 degrees during a feed and for at least 30-60 minutes afterward

• Avoiding sitting the child at a 90 degree angle during or after feeding

• Try smaller, more frequent feedings

• Consider prokinetic agents or antacids, as directed by a physician

• Work with a feeding team or specialist to determine the best treatment plan

For more information, see related articles and resources here:

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  1. These recommendations are mostly for acid reflux and are not the same as aspiration. Aspiration is when food or liquid passes into the airway rather than the esophagus. This cannot be prevented by antacids. Or smaller more frequent meals. Antacids are a treatment for acid reflux not aspiration. If your baby is aspirating please obtain advice from a speech-language pathologist with feeding experience.

    1. Hi there. Thank you for your comment. We spoke with one of our registered dietitians, Eleni, about your comment. Here is what she wrote back with:

      Hi Virginia,

      Thank you for your comment on Healthy At Home: Preventing Aspiration in Children. When gastric acid from reflux, reaches the back of the throat it may cause aspiration of the gastric acid into the lungs (Indirect Aspiration). GERD is the most frequent cause of pediatric aspiration. Maximal treatment of GERD is the first line of treatment for this type of aspiration.

      Our article is meant to increase awareness of this problem. We do agree with you in encouraging caregivers whose baby’s may be aspirating to work with a feeding team or specialist to determine the best treatment plan.

      We hope that helps clear things up a bit. Thank you again. -Aimee, Shield HealthCare

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