The use of telehealth to provide paediatric feeding assessments:
a validation and feasibility study

Madeline Raatz, Senior Speech Pathologist – Outpatient Care

The challenge

Anywhere from 2-25% of typically developing children, and up to 80% of children with developmental disabilities, experience feeding difficulties8. The term ‘feeding difficulties’ encompasses a wide variety of issues including food refusal, limited dietary variety, difficult mealtime behaviours, delayed oral motor skills, and swallowing problems. Accurate and timely assessment and management of feeding difficulties is critical because of the risk of poor nutrition, developmental and health outcomes, and increased parental stress.  Unfortunately, children’s access to feeding services may be impacted by a variety of factors such as geographical isolation, limited access to speech pathologists, difficulty and cost of travelling with children, and children’s anxiety attending healthcare facilities.

We aim to test whether using a telehealth system to conduct paediatric feeding assessments is as reliable and valid as attending these services in person.

Children and families will have timely access to feeding services, regardless of where they live.  This will ultimately lead to better health and nutrition outcomes for babies and young children.