Babies and young children with breathing or swallowing difficulties may have an underlying abnormality in the shape of their throat or voice box.
Referrals to Paediatric (Children) Fellowship trained ENT surgeons are sometimes needed to look after very young patients with swallowing or breathing problems.
Assessment in this young age group often requires multiple Healthcarers to determine the underlying cause and give proper treatment. Neonatologists (doctors specialising in newborns), Speech Pathologists, Paediatricians and Paediatric Otolaryngologists all provide input into the child’s care.
Occasionally a Laryngo-broncho-oesophagoscopy (scope into the voice box, airway and food pipe) is needed to rule out abnormal development of these structures. In most cases, a simple Nasendoscopy (scope through the nose) performed in the clinic is all that is required to determine the cause.
The most common anatomical cause of infant breathing and swallowing difficulties is Laryngomalacia. This means the baby has a floppy voice box which is making it difficult to breathe and swallow. In most cases (90%), the baby will grow out of this condition without any surgery required.