During the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, there was an increase in the prevalence of feeding and eating problems and disorders (FEPD) in children. For a study, researchers sought to evaluate how the COVID-19 pandemic affected young infants with FEPD and their parents.
For a cross-sectional study: online survey responses were collected from Dutch parents of children with FEPD aged 0 to 11 years (January–April 2021). The survey included 4 demographic questions (including pediatric feeding disorder [PFD] and/or avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder [ARFID] criteria for juvenile eating disorders) and 11 questions about how the COVID-19 epidemic affected respondents’ lives. In addition, they compared parents’ opinions toward children with FEPD (including PFD and ARFID) to those of parents of healthy controls (HCs).
A total of 240 kids (median age, 5.5 years; IQR, 3.5-7.9 years; 53.3% female) were included, 129 had FEPD, and 111 had HC. The majority of children with FEPD met the requirements for PFD (n = 119; 92.2%) and/or ARFID (117; 90.7%). In comparison to parents of HC during the COVID-19 pandemic, parents of children with FEPD reported more stress (of their child [P=0.014] and parental stress [P=0.014]), worse eating by the child (P<0.001), more tense relationships within the family (P=0.006), and less support from the environment (P=0.001).
The COVID-19 pandemic appeared to have had a significant impact on young children with FEPD and their parents because, in comparison to HC, parents of children with FEPD reported significantly higher perceived stress in both the child and parents, more challenging eating behavior in the child, higher levels of negative behavior among family members, and lower levels of environmental support.