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.