American scientists say that a simple screening test to swallow three ounces of water can help determine whether or not a child has the swallowing disorder oropharyngeal dysphagia.
Oropharyngeal dysphagia is caused by abnormalities of muscles, nerves, or structures of the oral cavity, pharynx, and upper esophageal sphincter.
Writing in Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, the researchers revealed that their study issued a three-part challenge to 56 children with suspected oropharyngeal dysphagia.
They revealed that, in the first two stages, subjects were asked to swallow food and liquid boluses (large capsules), with aspiration measured using a fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing (FEES).
Upon the completion of the first two phases, the patients were asked to drink and swallow three ounces of water out of a cup or straw.
The researchers observed that the children who passed the test could begin new diets consisting of not just thin liquids, but also other food consistencies, including pureed, chopped, soft-solid, or regular diet, depending on how much the patient aspirated during the challenge's first two phases.
According to them, 39.3 percent of the patients passed the water swallow challenge, and were cleared for an oral diet, with 86.4 percent of those passing resuming a solid food diet.
The team also revealed that 61.4 percent of those who failed the test were able to tolerate thin liquids based on FEES results.
The results of the current study attain significance because, previously, there had been no reliable screening test for children suspected of having oropharyngeal dysphagia.
The researchers point out that the impact of the ailment is so substantial that it can result in poor weight gain and stunted growth, along with dehydration, oral aversion, and pneumonia.
They say that developing a screening test for children will help doctors avoid diagnosis using a videofluoroscopy, which exposes a child to radiation, or a transnasal endoscopy, which can be uncomfortable.