OBJECTIVE: To describe the incidence, age at diagnosis, and associations between perinatal risk factors of feeding and eating disorders (FED) diagnosed at hospital in children aged 0 to 3 years.
METHODS: A nationwide cohort of 901 227 children was followed until 48 months of age in the national registers from 1997 to 2010. Multivariable Cox proportional hazards regression was used to estimate hazard ratios (HRs) for FED diagnosis according to the International Classification of Diseases and associations with perinatal risk factors.
RESULTS: A total of 1365 children (53% girls) were diagnosed with FED at hospital, corresponding to a cumulative incidence of 1.6 per 1000 live births. High risk of FED was seen in children born before gestational week 28 (HR, 3.52; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.15-5.78). HRs were 3.74 for children small for gestational age ≤3 SD (95% CI, 2.71-5.17) and 4.71 in those with congenital malformations (95% CI, 3.86-5.74). Increased risk of FED was associated with female gender (HR, 1.2; 95% CI, 1.08-1.34), maternal smoking in pregnancy (HR, 1.24; 95% CI, 1.08-1.42), immigrant status (HR, 2.24; 95% CI, 1.92-2.61), and being the firstborn (HR, 1.33; 95% CI, 1.19-1.50).
CONCLUSIONS: FED in referred children aged 0 to 3 years are associated with perinatal adversities, female gender, maternal smoking in pregnancy, being firstborn, and having immigrant parents. The results suggest complex causal mechanisms of FED and underscore the need for a multidisciplinary approach in the clinical management of young children with persistent problems of feeding, eating, and weight faltering.