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Gastrointestinal (GI) Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) Program

Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID) is a feeding disturbance characterized by extreme patterns of avoidant and restrictive eating. Children with ARFID will avoid or restrict eating due to three differing but potentially overlapping reasons: sensory/texture sensitivities, concern about GI discomfort, or lack of appetite or interest in eating. ARFID is different from other eating/feeding disorders (such as anorexia nervosa) in that children do not avoid or restrict eating due to body image concerns or a desire to lose weight.

The purpose of the Yale GI ARFID Program is to evaluate and treat ARFID symptoms in children with Disorders of Gut Brain Interaction (DGBIs). We have found that with early detection and treatment of ARFID symptoms, we are better able to improve patients’ quality of life and reduce the need for unnecessary testing and intervention.

ARFID in Disorders of Gut Brain Interaction (DGBIs)

DGBIs, formerly known as functional GI disorders, are a group of disorders related to a dysfunction of the gut-brain axis. Examples include but are not limited to the following:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Functional dyspepsia
  • Functional heartburn
  • Rumination syndrome
  • Functional abdominal pain

ARFID symptoms are commonly seen in children with DGBIs, as the symptoms of their gastrointestinal condition make it challenging for them to eat adaptively.

Signs of ARFID in DGBIs

Children and adolescents with DGBIs will commonly report difficulties eating due to a fear of causing GI discomfort. Common symptoms of ARFID in GI populations include:

  • Avoidant/restrictive eating due to fears of GI discomfort, choking, or vomiting
  • Unintentional weight loss due to avoidant/restrictive eating patterns
  • Loss of appetite due to a shift in eating patterns
  • Lack of interest in eating

ARFID treatment

The GI ARFID Program is an interdisciplinary team of specialists here to treat each child’s ARFID symptoms in the setting of their GI concerns. Each patient’s family will attend an initial evaluation with our team of specialists and will be offered an individualized treatment plan based on their child’s needs.

Our team includes a pediatric gastroenterologist specializing in neurogastroenterology and motility, a pediatric GI psychologist, a pediatric dietician, and a pediatric social worker.