Common Medical Conditions That Can Affect Swallowing in Children

While there are countless medical conditions that can contribute to difficulties with swallowing in children, some tend to be more common than others.

Cleft lip or cleft palate, Cerebral Palsy, Muscular Dystrophy and even enlarged tonsils are among the most typical conditions that affect swallowing in babies and children. A child who has undergone a tracheotomy or who has had a feeding tube inserted might also experience challenges in this area.

Problems with swallowing can start in infancy and progress into the school years. Of course, every child is unique and the difficulties they experience may range from challenges with sucking and swallowing in infants, to avoidance of certain food textures in toddlers, to weakness in the muscles that aid chewing in the mouth, initiate the swallow, and move food down the pharynx to the esophagus in older children.

If you suspect your child might have a swallowing disorder speak to your family doctor about your concerns. You could be referred to a Speech-Language Pathologist for help in overcoming the difficulty.

After consulting with your child’s physician, a qualified Speech-Language Pathologist will devise an intervention plan. Following an individual assessment, the clinician may modify the child’s diet to enable them to better manage and swallow foods, gradually increasing consistency and textures that require increased strength and manipulation of the food. They can teach a child who is having difficulties in chewing and bolus transit how to strengthen the muscles needed for effective swallowing and/or modify the food consistency.

At S.L. Hunter SpeechWorks, there is a team of highly trained Speech-Language Pathologists providing a positive environment where children and adults feel supported, encouraged and safe. Anyone with concerns regarding a possible swallowing or feeding disorder is welcome to contact the clinic to arrange for an assessment.

The offices of S.L. Hunter SpeechWorks are located at 5195 Harvester Rd. Unit 4B. They can be reached by telephone at 905-637-5522 or online at