Oral aversion is defined as a sensitivity or fear of food, drink and/or other implements (toothbrushes for example) entering the mouth. This usually has its roots in infancy, and by adulthood the food and drink aspect has largely been managed successfully in those born with OA/TOF. However, some will still struggle with certain foods, drinks and textures due to oral aversion (rather than simply due to dysphagia) or will find instrumentation of the mouth (dentists, suction devices in other settings, NG tubes, endoscopy, tongue depressors) very difficult.
Those born with OA/TOF are at high risk of development of oral aversion in childhood. Many of the risk factors for oral aversion exist in those born with OA/TOF. These include the following:
There is a wide body of research into eating difficulties found in children with OA/TOF. While we are lacking similar research in adults, some of these factors persist into adulthood and may limit the total intake of all food and/or intake of specific foods. This in turn impacts the nutritional status of adults born with OA/TOF. Eating difficulties identified in childhood that can still apply in adulthood include: