Charlotte had a follow up swallow study with her speech therapist, Susie Trela, at Children’s today. This is about the coolest medical procedure I have ever seen. We sat the baby in a chair, fed her a bottle filled with half barium and half formula, and watched her swallow via video x-ray. Susie experimented with formula consistency and with bottles and nipples. We observed the formula as it came out of the bottle, hit the top of her mouth and then squirted down her throat.
The results–with the thin liquid, Charlotte is still aspirating trace amounts, meaning that some liquid is going down “the wrong way,” into her airway. This is dangerous, of course, and worrisome because Charlotte does not exhibit any symptoms of aspiration–no coughing or discomfort. With thickened liquid, she’s fine.
So…we’ll continue to thicken the formula. Susie shared samples of a product called SimplyThick which works better than rice cereal because it doesn’t clog the nipple. She’s eating really comfortably now!
We’ll have a follow up swallow study in 4-6 weeks. Next time, I’ll bring my camera and post some cool pictures!
If you’re wondering….Charlotte’s suck-swallow-breathe concerns come from not bottle or breastfeeding until she was 6 weeks old. They are not a direct result of the heart defect or a complication from surgery, but rather a form of developmental delay that is sort of a secondary result of surgery and hospital stay.