Oral-motor dysfunction in children who fail to thrive: organic or non-organic?

S M Reilly PhD , D H Skuse MD, D Wolke PhD  and J Stevenson PhD

Oral-motor dysfunction in children who fail to thrive: organic or non-organic?

S M Reilly, D H Skuse, D Wolke and J Stevenson (1999). Oral-motor dysfunction in children who fail to thrive: organic or non-organic?. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 41 , pp 115-122


Forty-seven children with non-organic failure to thrive (NOFT) were identified from a whole-population survey of children’s growth and development. A significant proportion (N=17) of these 47 children were found to have oral-motor dysfunction (OMD) identified using a previously validated assessment tool. NOFT children with OMD and those with normal oral-motor function (N=30) were compared in order to ascertain whether there were any neurodevelopmental differences which might explain this finding. We hypothesized that children with OMD might have a subtle neurodevelopmental disorder. Few psychosocial variables discriminated the two groups. However, cognitive stimulation within the home and cognitive-growth fostering during mealtimes was much poorer for children with OMD.

Some evidence has suggested that NOFT children with OMD may be ‘biologically’ more vulnerable from birth. We suggest that the continued use of the term ‘non-organic’ to describe failure to thrive in such children is questionable and requires redefining.


source : Behavioural Sciences Unit, Institute of Child Health, London, UK. Department of Psychology, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, UK. Department of Psychology, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK.

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