The Effect of Behavioral Feeding Treatment on Mother-Child Attachment in Children with Feeding Disorders
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Feeding disorders can adversely affect the physical and mental growth of children. In addition to negative health effects, the behaviors associated with and caused by the presence of a feeding disorder can cause stress in the family. Behavioral feeding intervention is the only empirically supported treatment for children with feeding disorders, but many families and physicians are apprehensive to pursue this treatment out of fear that it will negatively affect the parent-child relationship. In this proposed study, 24 children with feeding disorders aged 12 to 14 or 30 to 48 months, and their mothers, will be recruited from a clinical waitlist. The dyads will undergo Ainsworth's Strange Situation or the Preschool Strange Situation to measure mother-child attachment. The mothers will then complete a series to questionnaires to evaluate environmental factors that may affect the attachment relationship. Next, the dyad is randomly assigned to either a treatment or a control group. Dyads assigned to the treatment condition will experience behavioral feeding treatment, and will repeat the procedures after 6 months and again after one year. Those assigned to the control group will not undergo treatment and repeat the procedures only after 6 months. It is hypothesized that behavioral feeding intervention will have no significant negative effect on mother-child attachment. If the hypothesis is supported, a significant hurdle will be overcome to providing safe and effective treatment for children with feeding disorders.