Silent aspiration in infants with Prader–Willi syndrome identified by videofluoroscopic swallow study

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Feeding intolerance in Prader–Willi syndrome (PWS) infants is well-recognized, but their swallow physiology is not well understood. Swallow dysfunction increases risks of respiratory compromise and choking, which have a high incidence in PWS. To investigate swallow pathology in PWS infants we undertook a retrospective review of videofluoroscopic swallow studies (VFSS) in infants with PWS seen at our institution. We hypothesize that VFSS will characterize swallow pathology suspected by clinical observation during a feeding evaluation and may help determine feeding safety in these infants.Retrospective review of 23 VFSS on 10 PWS infants (average age 9.7 ± 8.4 months; range 3 weeks–29 months). Logistic regression models evaluated associations between gender, genetic subtype, and growth hormone (GH) use on aspiration incidence. Polysomnographic (PSG) studies conducted on the same participant ±1 year from VFSS were examined to characterize respiratory abnormalities.There was a high rate of swallowing dysfunction (pharyngeal residue 71%, aspiration events 87%) and disordered sleep. All aspiration events were silent. There were no differences in rates of aspiration for gender, genetic subtype, or GH use.A high incidence of aspiration was identified indicating swallow dysfunction may frequently be present in infants with PWS. Comprehensive evaluation of feeding and swallowing is essential and requires a multidisciplinary approach. Providers should recognize risk factors for swallow dysfunction and consider a multidisciplinary approach to guide decision making and optimize feeding safety in PWS.

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