FEEDS Review

Expression of Interest Form

If you would like to take part in our survey, and have not already been involved in our study, please complete the 'Expression of Interest Form' by clicking on this link: https://tinyurl.com/FEEDS-Expression-of-Interest


Participant Newsletter January 2019 PDF 100Kb

Please click on the link above for an update on the progress of our study.



Young children with developmental difficulties may have eating, drinking and swallowing problems. Eating and drinking difficulties may lead to a restricted diet, poor growth, and impact on development. For some children there are specific physical health risks such as choking or chest infections. The difficulties may also create stress at mealtimes that can affect wider aspects of family life.

Some young children have mostly physical difficulties; for example, those with cerebral palsy may find chewing and swallowing problematic. Other young children have mostly sensory difficulties, such as sensitivity to certain foods, or difficulties associated with not wanting to eat or eating only a restricted range of foods, such as in children with autism. Some children have combinations of difficulties.

A team of health professionals usually works with parents and carers of young children with eating and drinking difficulties. The professionals identify the cause of the child’s difficulties and suggest to parents how eating and drinking might be improved. This could include adjusting posture, reducing the child's sensitivity to certain textures, using medication, or special equipment. The treatments suggested depend on the cause of the child’s difficulty.

At the moment there is no strong evidence on whether the treatments suggested by professionals actually work, so we need to conduct careful research to understand whether they are effective. As a first step, we need to find out which treatments are regularly recommended, which types of improvement in eating and drinking are considered most important by parents and professionals, and how best to measure a child’s progress. This will help us to decide which treatments should be tested in a future study and how to assess whether they work.

Study overview

The FEEDS review (Focus on Early Eating Drinking and Swallowing review) aims to find out about the services currently offered to families of children with eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties by NHS services. We then want to gather information in order to plan a future study of one or more potentially worthwhile treatments.

Using discussion groups and surveys with parents and professionals, we will find out the different treatments recommended for young children with eating and drinking difficulties and how acceptable they are to parents. We will also ask how we should measure improvements in a child’s eating and drinking and other related areas that are important to families; and how long after the treatments have been started we should assess success. Then we will examine the published research literature to see what is currently known about the effectiveness of treatments people think could be important.

Making conclusions

We will combine all the information to identify whether there are treatments that would be worth investigating further, and how best to measure children’s progress with eating and drinking. We will meet again with parents and professionals, and meet young people who have experienced eating and drinking difficulties, to see whether we can agree how to test treatments in further research. Finally we will make recommendations about how future studies should be designed and conducted.

Who is involved in this study?

The Principal Investigators for this study are Dr Jeremy Parr and Dr Lindsay Pennington

Jeremy Parr‌

‌Lindsay Pennington

Also involved in the project from the Neurodevelopment and Disability team are:

Allan Colver

  • Professor of Community Child Health and Strategic Research Advisor
  • Honorary Consultant Paediatrician, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

‌‌Helen McConachie

  • Strategic Research Adviser
  • Professor of Child Clinical Psychology

Helen Taylor

  • Clincial Research Associate

Also involved from outside the team are:

  • Dawn Craig (Principal Scientist (Evidence Synthesis))
  • Elaine McColl (Professor of Health Service Research)
  • Charlotte Buswell (Specialist Paediatric Speech and Language Therapist, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust)
  • Jill Cadwgn (Consultant in Paediatric Neurodisability, Guys' and St Thomas's NHS Foundation Trust)
  • Julian Thomas (Consultant Paediatric Gastroenterologist, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust)
  • Diane Sellers (Specialist Speech and Language Therapist, Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust)
  • Chris Morris (Senior Research Fellow in Child Health, Peninsula Cerebra Childhood Disability Research Unit (PenCRU))

More information        

We’d be interested to hear from you!

Please do contact us if you are interested in this research. You can do that by contacting Helen Taylor by emailing: FEEDS@ncl.ac.uk 

Or you can telephone 0191 282 1379

Other research

The FEEDS Review sits within the 'Clinical service development' and the 'Effects and acceptability of interventions' research themes.

If you are looking for other research linked to ASDCerebral Palsy incl. Hemiplegia or Childhood Neurodisabilityplease view the relevant conditions and topics page for a full list of studies.