Pediatric Feeding and Eating Disorder Center Launches at Children’s

NEW ORLEANS – The Feeding and Eating Disorder Center opened this month at the main campus of Children’s Hospital New Orleans. It provides outpatient assessment and treatment for children, adolescents and teens. 

Described by a spokesperson as the first hospital-based program of its kind in the Gulf South, the center is spearheaded by pediatric psychologist Amy Henke, registered dietitian Jacey Lutz-Thiel and adolescent medicine physician Ryan Pasternak. 

“As we have experienced a broad increase in mental health problems among children and adolescents across the U.S. since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, eating and feeding disorders are unfortunately no exception,” said John R. Nickens IV, Children’s president and CEO, in a press release. “Establishing the Eating and Feeding Disorder Center at Children’s Hospital was critical for our team to be able to care for the whole child. I am incredibly proud of this provider-led initiative that has already had a powerful impact in its first few weeks.”

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The program’s leaders say eating disorders are “marked by a variety of emotional, physical and behavioral changes, and, if untreated, can be serious and sometimes fatal.” 

Throughout the U.S, there has been a rise in eating disorders over the last few years, particularly among adolescents, which is the most common age of onset, according to a hospital rep. Additionally, feeding disorders are identified “when a child does not consume adequate food, liquid, or a variety of foods to gain weight and grow normally.”

“We focus on providing advanced, evidence-based care plans including family-based treatment for eating disorders and cognitive behavioral therapy for feeding disorders,” said Henke. “Our goal is to provide families and their children who are suffering with eating and feeding disorders with the tools they need to recover by working as an integrated care team to address medical, psychological and nutritional needs together.”

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Services are offered in an outpatient setting at the Children’s Hospital main campus while they remain under the care of a primary caregiver. A registered dietitian serves as the entry point to the Feeding and Eating Disorder Center, and patients receive an individualized assessment and care plan. Families are then referred as needed for psychological and behavioral intervention. While under the care of the team, medical monitoring for safety is provided, and the team is “focused on supporting and empowering the family as they support their child’s recovery,” said a spokesperson.

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