A new study published in the journal Pediatrics indicates that in some cases children who are picky eaters may have serious problems and the fact that they are selective eaters may be something more than just misbehavior.
Picky eating in children is quite widespread to clinicians consider it something normal in the development of preschool-aged children. It seems that 14-20 percent parents who have children with ages between two and five years have reported that their children are picky eaters.
Researchers from Duke Medicine in Durham, NC have discovered that moderate and severe levels of picky eating are linked with psychological problems such as depression, anxiety and ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder). The lead author of the study, Nancy Zucker, who is also the director of the Duke Center for Eating Disorders, remarked that many physicians and parents wonder when picky eating becomes a real problem. Both parents and physicians should have a clear understanding of when the severity of selective eating should be worrying and of when measures should be taken.
For this research 917 children were analyzed. They had between 24 and 71 months. The persons in charge with taking care of the children were questioned regarding the eating habits of the children, home environment and possible psychiatric symptoms.
Researchers observed that moderate picky eaters were not prone to develop psychotic disorder, but severe picky eaters had more than twice chances of being diagnosed with depression.
These are children whose eating has become so limited or selective that it’s starting to cause problems. Impairment can take many different forms. It can affect the child’s health, growth, social functioning and the parent-child relationship. The child can feel like no one believes them, and parents can feel blamed for the problem.”
He also remarked that conflict between parents and children who are picky eaters do not solve the problem and does not make children give up their habits. Both doctors and parents should use new tools in order to deal with this problem Zucker added.
The conclusion of the study was that picky eating which leads to psychotic disorders should be diagnosed as ARFID (avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder). This is a new diagnosis which was introduced in the in the latest Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
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