Changing from oral to enteral feeding: impact on families of children with disabilities.

The number of children in the U.K. who are being fed enterally at home is increasing. Feeding by nasogastric or gastrostomy tube may not seem particularly abnormal to nurses who care for sick children. However, the initiation of tube feeding can have a significant impact on both the child and the family. Research related to children with disabilities who have feeding problems is focused around the views of their mothers because they are often the main carers of these children. However, eating is a social activity in our society and tube feeding will have an effect on other members of the family. To provide adequate support, nurses need to understand the nature and scale of the impact that continuing with oral feeding or changing to gastrostomy feeding has on the whole family.