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Clinical Aspects of Thickeners for Pediatric Gastroesophageal Reflux and Oropharyngeal Dysphagia


Purpose of Review

The purpose of this review is to discuss current knowledge and recent findings regarding clinical aspects of thickeners for pediatric gastroesophageal reflux and oropharyngeal dysphagia. We review evidence for thickener efficacy, discuss types of thickeners, practical considerations when using various thickeners, and risks and benefits of thickener use in pediatrics.

Recent Findings

Thickeners are effective in decreasing regurgitation and improving swallowing mechanics and can often be used empirically for the treatment of infants and young children. Adverse effects have been reported, but with careful consideration of appropriate thickener types, desired thickening consistency, and follow-up in collaboration with feeding specialists, most patients have symptomatic improvements.


Thickeners are typically well tolerated and with few side effects, but close follow-up is needed to make sure patients tolerate thickeners and have adequate symptom improvement.

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This work was supported by The Translational Research Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, NIH R01 DK097112-01, and NIH T32 DK007477-33.

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Correspondence to Rachel L. Rosen.

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Duncan, D.R., Larson, K. & Rosen, R.L. Clinical Aspects of Thickeners for Pediatric Gastroesophageal Reflux and Oropharyngeal Dysphagia. Curr Gastroenterol Rep 21, 30 (2019).

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  • Thickening
  • Oropharyngeal dysphagia
  • Aspiration
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Regurgitation
  • Pediatrics