Screening criteria for diagnosis of infantile feeding disorders as a cause of poor feeding or food refusal

Arie Levine, Lea Bachar, Zili Tsangen, Avi Mizrachi, Anat Levy, Ilan Dalal, Lia Kornfeld, Yuval Levy, Zvi Zadik, Dan Turner, Mona Boaz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Objectives: Infantile feeding disorders (IFDs) are a common cause of food refusal, failure to thrive, and vomiting, but they may be difficult to diagnose. We have previously identified certain patterns of pathological feeding and behaviors as high-risk characteristics for IFDs and subsequently developed the diagnostic Wolfson criteria. Here, we evaluate these high-risk behaviors and prospectively compare the Wolfson criteria with 2 existing classifications of IFD, the Chatoor and that in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV). Patients and Methods: Infants and young children referred for food refusal were invited to participate by completing a feeding pattern questionnaire. Following physicians' interview and examination, patients were scored by all 3 criteria and enrolled in a structured treatment program for IFD. Infants whose food refusal was associated with an organic cause served as a comparison group. The ability of the criteria to detect IFD and to predict response to therapy was compared with an intention-to-treat analysis. Results: Eighty-five infants with new-onset IFD and 55 controls were included. The Wolfson criteria, Chatoor, and DSM-IV accurately diagnosed 100%, 77%, and 56% of the patients with IFD, respectively. Anticipatory gagging occurred in 47% of the children with IFD compared to 2% controls (P < 0.001). The response to therapy was similar among the 3 criteria (73-76%), suggesting that the Wolfson criteria did not incorrectly diagnose organic disease as IFD. The 20 infants who were diagnosed as having IFD by Wolfson but not by Chatoor responded equally well (80%) to an IFD treatment program. Conclusions: Diagnostic criteria of IFD that are based on food refusal, pathological feeding, and anticipatory gagging have a higher detection rate than the present criteria and are simpler to implement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)563-568
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Anorexia
  • behavior
  • child
  • failure to thrive
  • feeding
  • food refusal
  • vomiting


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