Clinical UM Guideline
|Subject:||Intensive Programs for Pediatric Feeding Disorders|
|Guideline #:||CG-MED-37||Current Effective Date:||06/28/2016|
|Status:||Reviewed||Last Review Date:||05/05/2016|
This document addresses the use of intensive programs for pediatric feeding disorders. The term "feeding disorder" refers to a condition in which an individual is unable or refuses to eat, or has difficulty eating, resulting in failure to grow normally. Feeding disorders should not be confused with eating disorders, such as anorexia, which are more common in adolescence and adulthood. Some common types of feeding disorders in children include, but are not limited to, adipsia (the absence of thirst or the desire to drink); dysphagia (difficulty in swallowing); food refusal; inability to self-feed; taking too long to eat; choking, gagging, or vomiting when eating; inappropriate mealtime behavior; and picky eating according to food type and texture.
Note: Please see the following documents for more information regarding issues related to topics addressed in this guideline:
An evaluation* to confirm a suspected diagnosis of pediatric feeding disorder† is considered medically necessary for children whose difficulties began under five (5) years of age who meet either of the following criteria:
An evaluation* to confirm a suspected diagnosis of pediatric feeding disorder† is considered medically necessary for children of any age who meet either of the following criteria:
*This evaluation should include:
† Possible situations that could initiate an evaluation for a pediatric feeding disorder include:
A reevaluation is considered medically necessary when there are any of the following:
Note: There are several routine reassessments that are not considered reevaluations. These include ongoing reassessments that are part of each skilled treatment session, progress reports, and discharge summaries. Reevaluation is a more comprehensive assessment that usually includes the components of the initial evaluation, and may also include components such as:
The treatment of a pediatric feeding disorder is considered medically necessary when such a disorder has been diagnosed after appropriate evaluation and all of the following criteria are met:
Note: Other issues that may be addressed include specific dietary interventions or special formulas, positioning during feeding, behavioral interventions and family/caregiver education. Intensity of treatment may vary from short-term intermittent outpatient visits to more intensive treatment programs. Inpatient or intensive outpatient treatment programs may be warranted for severe cases, such as malnutrition or failure to thrive, unstable electrolyte disorders, potentially serious allergic reactions to food, significant difficulty transitioning from tube feedings to oral feedings, etc.
Not Medically Necessary:
Evaluation and treatment for pediatric feeding disorders are considered not medically necessary when the criteria above have not been met.
A feeding disorder treatment program is considered not medically necessary for children who can eat and swallow with normal functioning, but who are "picky eaters" or have selective eating behaviors and yet continue to meet normal growth and developmental milestones, and other medically necessary criteria above have not been met.
Inpatient admission for a pediatric intensive feeding program is considered not medically necessary, except when the individual requires facility-based care related to acute medical complications of the feeding disorder (for example, malnutrition or failure to thrive, unstable electrolyte disorders, potentially serious allergic reactions to food, significant difficulty transitioning from tube feedings to oral feedings, etc.).
Duplicate therapy is considered not medically necessary.
Note: When individuals receive concurrent physical, occupational, behavioral, or speech therapy, the therapists should provide different treatments that reflect each therapy discipline's unique perspective on the individual's impairments and functional deficits and not duplicate the same treatment. They must also have separate evaluations, treatment plans, and goals.
Maintenance programs are considered not medically necessary.
Note: A maintenance program consists of treatments or activities that preserve the individual's present level range, strength, coordination, balance, pain, activity, function, etc. and prevent regression of the same parameters. Maintenance begins when the therapeutic goals of a treatment plan have been achieved, or when no additional functional progress is apparent or expected to occur. In certain circumstances, the specialized knowledge and judgment of a qualified therapist may be required to establish a maintenance program, however, the repetitive therapy services to maintain a level would be considered not medically necessary.
The following codes for treatments and procedures applicable to this document are included below for informational purposes. Inclusion or exclusion of a procedure, diagnosis or device code(s) does not constitute or imply member coverage or provider reimbursement policy. Please refer to the member's contract benefits in effect at the time of service to determine coverage or non-coverage of these services as it applies to an individual member.
|No specific codes for multidisciplinary feeding programs|
Pediatric feeding disorders include a wide range of problems that interfere with normal eating activities and result in inadequate caloric or nutritional intake, resulting in compromise of the child's growth and development, confirmed when the child fails to consume a sufficient volume or variety of food to maintain weight or to sustain a normal growth rate (Crosby, 2007; Piazza, 2008).
Signs and symptoms of a significant feeding disorder may include refusal to eat or drink; difficulty swallowing, inability to self-feed at an appropriate age, requiring an abnormally long time to eat, choking, gagging, or vomiting when eating, or other inappropriate mealtime behaviors. If such feeding problems occur for a prolonged period of time, they will have a significant effect upon the child's nutritional intake, affecting growth rates and may result in frequent illnesses, or death in severe cases. Such disorders may also be accompanied by behavioral problems such as hitting, biting, kicking, tantrums, and vomiting at mealtime as an attention-getting strategy.
Feeding disorders are fairly common in infants and toddlers, with approximately 25-35% of these children experiencing some difficulties with feeding (Kodak, 2008). The incidence of severe feeding problems has been reported to be as high as 40-70% in infants born prematurely or in children with chronic medical conditions (Rogers, 2004).
Feeding disorders may result from a wide range of causes, including medical conditions (for example, food allergies, neurologic or neuromuscular disease, gastroesophageal reflux, and others), structural or functional abnormalities (for example, defects of the palate), or behavioral issues (for example, crying or tantrums that prevent successful completion of mealtimes). In most cases, there is likely a complex interaction among multiple causative factors. For example, medical problems such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may cause eating to be painful. Early experiences with pain during eating can cause the child to stop eating and develop behavior problems that make it difficult if not impossible for the parent to feed the child. Compounding the problem, frequent avoidance of eating may contribute to failure to develop appropriate oral sensorimotor skills required for successful eating and swallowing.
Infants and children who are tube fed for extended periods of time have an especially high frequency of feeding problems. In such individuals, it is believed that there are "critical period" for developing proper oral feeding patterns and reflexes has passed without adequate feeding experiences. This critical period has been described as being between 6 and 7 months of age, during which acquisition of oral food consumption skill is most likely. Beyond this period oral feeding abilities may not be established or may be established with great difficulty (Babbitt, 1994).
Premature infants and those that are of very low birth weight are at very high risk for feeding disorders (Rommel, 2002; Schädler, 2007; Vohr, 2006). The underdeveloped sphincter muscle between the stomach and esophagus can cause the infant to spit up frequently during feedings. Because this is uncomfortable for the child, he or she may not want to eat. One study by Schädler and colleagues (2007) in 86 premature children describes the successful use of behavioral therapy for severe feeding disorders. However, they indicate that other conditions such as cerebral palsy, mental retardation and interaction problems, which are frequent in this population, have a significant negative impact on therapy outcomes and may require an even more intensive approach to address feeding disorders.
Disorders of the digestive system can also cause feeding problems. Examples of these types of conditions include structural or functional abnormalities of the mouth, throat, or esophagus that may result in inability to chew or swallow, or cause pain during swallowing, or result in aspiration (inhaling food or fluid into the lungs). Celiac disease, necrotizing entercolitis, Hirschprung disease, short bowel syndrome, pyloric stenosis, and GERD may also contribute to disordered feeding behaviors. A small controlled study by Mathisen et al. (1999) concluded that the presence of GERD had a significant negative impact on the energy intake of affected infants. Such infants demonstrated fewer adaptive skills and readiness behaviors for solid foods, and significantly more food refusals and food loss at meal times.
Neurologic and neuromuscular disorders, such as cerebral palsy, are associated with significantly increased difficulty with feeding. In such children, spasticity or weakness of the oral musculature results in difficulty with oral food preparation prior to swallowing (for example, sipping, sucking, or chewing), but problems swallowing may also be present. This may progress from simple frustration to more significant problems such as aspiration and respiratory infections (Arvedson, 2008; Field, 2003; Gisel, 2008; Rogers, 2004).
Developmental disorders, such as Down syndrome and autism spectrum disorders, may also contribute to feeding problems (Manikam, 2000). While such individuals frequently have co-existing physical disorders as described above, they may also demonstrate unique behavioral issues that impair feeding (Kodak, 2008; Schreck, 2004). Food aversion and food refusal in these individuals are sometimes linked to difficulties with food texture and type which significantly limit the accepted food options for these individuals. It is important to note that feeding disorders may be comorbid with developmental disorders without being part of the developmental disorder itself. There are no developmental disorders whose diagnostic criteria include feeding disorders as defined above.
Evaluation for pediatric feeding disorders is probably best performed by a multidisciplinary team (Arvedson, 2008; Lifschitz, 2001; Rommel, 2003). Members of this team may include, but are not limited to, a pediatrician, family physician, gastroenterologist, dietitian, occupational therapist, speech-language pathologist, pediatric behavioral and developmental specialist, psychologist, and social worker. These professionals work together to assess the individual and determine the possible underlying causes for the disorder, followed by creating a treatment plan. The assessment process should evaluate a wide range of issues, including the structure and function of the mouth, upper airway, gastrointestinal tract; as well as behavioral aspects of feeding such as the parental-child interaction.
The rationale for treatment is that children whose feeding problems are treated with nasogastric, gastrostomy, or jejunostomy tubes are more likely to need therapy to become oral feeders. Placement of a feeding tube has been shown to actually cause or worsen feeding problems for many children (Crosby, 2007).
Treatment for diagnosed pediatric feeding disorders may also require a multidisciplinary team approach (Arvedson, 2008; Lifschitz, 2001; Rommel, 2003). This team should include the same types of professionals described above for the evaluation process, to treat both the causative and underlying medical conditions, as well as to provide the various interventions deemed appropriate for the treatment of the individual. Many studies have demonstrated the benefits of such a multidisciplinary approach (Benoit, 2000; Byars, 2003). Rommel and colleagues (2003) described the multidisciplinary treatment of 700 infants and young children with feeding disorders, reporting that almost 50% of the study subjects presented with a combination of medical (for example, GERD, neurologic or other problem) and oral (for example, oral motor issues, sensory problems, etc.) pathology underlying their disorder. There were also a substantial number of individuals presenting with combined oral-behavioral (for example, food avoidance, tantrums, etc.), and medical-behavioral conditions as well. These individuals were treated by a team approach, with 73.1% of the individuals experiencing significant benefits beyond 2 months to 5 years.
Peer Reviewed Publications:
Government Agency, Medical Society, and Other Authoritative Publications:
|Websites for Additional Information|
|Reviewed||05/05/2016||Medical Policy & Technology Assessment Committee (MPTAC) Review. Updated Reference section. Removed ICD-9 codes from Coding section.|
|Reviewed||05/07/2015||MPTAC Review. Updated formatting throughout the medical necessary statements and clarified the first "Note" in the clinical indications section. Updated Reference section.|
|Reviewed||05/09/2013||MPTAC Review. Updated Reference section.|
|Reviewed||05/10/2012||MPTAC Review. Updated Reference section.|
|Reviewed||05/19/2011||MPTAC Review. Updated Reference and Coding sections.|
|Reviewed||05/13/2010||MPTAC Review. Updated Reference section.|
|New||05/21/2009||MPTAC initial document development.|