AIM: To assess the predictive validity of the Functional Evaluation of Eating Difficulties Scale (FEEDS) on long-term eating developmental outcomes in infants with neurodevelopmental disorders.
METHOD: In total, 144 infants (69 females, 75 males) aged 0 to 12 months (mean [SD] 5.34mo [3.42]) with neurodevelopmental disorders and requiring enteral nutrition support, hospitalized between January 2004 and December 2017, were included. The FEEDS was administered at the onset of hospitalization. Follow-up evaluations of feeding modalities occurred at discharge and at 6 months, 12 months, and 24 months after discharge. FEEDS score was tested as a predictor of infants' feeding modality (percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy, nasogastric tube, mixed, oral feeding) and time to autonomous oral feeding. Percentages of false-positive and negative cases were checked.
RESULTS: Lower FEEDS scores significantly predicted infants' feeding modality (0.40≤R2 ≤0.61). A 1-point increase in FEEDS score was associated with increased risk (6%-14%; p<0.05) of being non-autonomous feeders at the different follow-up points in infants who had a FEEDS score above the clinical cut-off.
INTERPRETATION: The FEEDS appears to be a clinically valid assessment to predict the presence of eating difficulties in infants with neurodevelopmental disabilities.