The following is a summary of “Protocolized Intervention for Children and Adolescents With Phagophobia” published in the December 2022 issue of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition by Begotka et al.

The purpose of this study was to perform a prospective evaluation of the efficacy of a protocolized shaping intervention in children diagnosed with phagophobia. Phagophobia is a condition that occurs when an unpleasant oral experience causes fear of swallowing. This fear can lead to restricted oral intake and weight loss. 

Twenty-one youngsters, 12 of whom were male, were on average 8.5 years old when diagnosed with phagophobia and went through an initial medical workup, and a pediatric psychologist guided molding program. To alleviate participants’ anxiety and broaden their dietary options, the outpatient procedure called for a progressive food exposure combined with anxiety reduction measures. The average number of treatment sessions that each participant completed was 6. 

Following completion of the treatment, there was a discernible rise in weight, the overall number of foods consumed, and the number of foods consumed across all food groups and textures. In addition, self-reported subjective units of distress remained low across the board during the duration of treatment for all subjects. Researchers come to a conclusion that, after an appropriate medical workup, behavioral treatment for children with phagophobia is both safe and effective, and it returns children to their functioning and diet before the onset of the condition.