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Picky Eater or Hidden Medical Problem?

When to Be Concerned About Your Child's Picky Eating


Updated May 30, 2012

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Picky Eater or Hidden Medical Problem?
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Your son will only eat crunchy foods. Your daughter loves vegetables but refuses to eat fruit. Your toddler gags on anything that is not pureed. Your tween will only eat pizza and chicken nuggets.

Grandma says he’s spoiled and you just need to be firm with him. Grandpa suggests paying her a dollar if she cleans her plate. Friends tell you the secret to getting kids to eat anything –- anything! -– is ketchup. Or ranch dressing. Or maybe honey mustard?

You’ve tried everything, but nothing seems to work. Is your child a picky eater? Or could he have a hidden medical problem?

Not all picky eaters are the same, and the medical issues that can underlie picky eating may show themselves in different ways. Ask yourself these questions about your child's eating, and then read more about possible medical causes and solutions:


Ernsperger, Lori, Ph.D. and Tania Stegen-Hanson, OTR/L. Just Take a Bite: Easy, Effective Answers to Food Aversions and Eating Challenges. Future Horizons, Arlington, TX.

North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition. Hepatitis B Vaccine. Accessed online 1/14/2011. http://www.naspghan.org/user-assets/Documents/pdf/diseaseInfo/2008%20Revisions/Hepatitis%20B%20-%20Reviewed%20August%202008.pdf

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