Anorexia in children can affect kids as young as 4 years old. Just knowing how to recognize the signs of this childhood eating disorder can help save an anorexic child. Early intervention is key.
Most people are familiar with the fact that anorexia usually develops during adolescence, but it's alarming that the age of onset is getting younger and younger all the time.
Because children have less body fat than teenagers or adults, they can become emaciated very quickly. Anorexia puts children at risk for a multitude of health problems, and even death.
There is no single cause of anorexia in children, or early childhood eating disorders. However, there are certain things that you can do as a parent or adult that will go a long way in preventing anorexia in your child.
Kids notice it all. They are greatly influenced by everything that we say or do. It's essential that the adults in their lives portray healthy relationships with food and body image.
This may not be as easy as it sounds, especially if there's an adult in their lives who has struggled with disordered eating and unhealthy dieting.
The challenge is to keep the lines of communication open. Always listen to your child and be aware of the various developmental stages that they are (or should be) going through. Be aware of failure to thrive.
Children with anorexia may display a number of different signs and symptoms of an eating disorder - some will be physical and others could be emotional or behavioral.
Since there are many other illnesses that can mimic, or coexist with eating disorders, it's important to rule out these issues first.
Rumination Disorder is fairly common in children under one year old, so if you suspect that your young child may have this eating disorder, get her (or him) assessed by a physician immediately.
Eating disorders can spiral out of control very quickly, so please don't put it off.
Picky eaters have what some would call selective eating disorder. Parents worry that it could be one of the early signs of anorexia, but it's hard to say for sure if that's the case.
I think it depends on how you define "picky eating". We all have foods that we simply just don't like and won't eat.
However, if you start to notice a pattern where more and more types of foods are being arbitrarily cut from the diet, this may be cause for concern. In the very young, keep an eye out for pediatric dysphagia.
Kids who have been physically or sexually abused are more prone to developing anorexia or other eating disorders. Factors associated with the onset of eating disorders are social isolation and signs and symptoms of depression.
Anorexia in children may display itself in developmental issues like delayed puberty. For other girls with eating disorders, primary amenorrhea could be a symptom. Kids might also be of unusually small stature for their age due to stunted growth.
Every child will display their symptoms differently, but those are some things to watch for. Recognizing the signs is the first step to recovery, and eventually prevention. Always remember to check with your doctor if you have any concerns.
Preventing anorexia in children seems like a monumental task, but I think it's possible with the right ingredients - dedication and self awareness, plus unconditional love and support.
Does infant anorexia really exist?
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