- The toddler Harley Paige, who is 2 and a half, started refusing food as a 14-year-old.
- He is now being fed through a probe after losing an alarming amount of weight.
- So far, doctors have not been able to make a diagnosis.
- Visit Business Insider for more stories.
Shannon Paige was shocked by the overwhelming reaction to her TikTok video about the ordeal of raising a young child who refuses to eat.
More than 8.5 million people have seen as her 2-year-old son rejects any kind of food offered him.
He spits it out and pushes it away while crying. Her video is packed with close-ups of the food Paige has been trying to get him to eat.
Towards the end of TikTok, the little boy appears with one feeding tube in his nose.
“It’s like he’s on a complete hunger strike,” Paige told Insider.
The single mother from Essex, England, does not speak in her TikTok video, but it does contain written observations. She expresses her frustration with people, including some medical professionals, who have offered advice that she said was not “helpful”.
“Unfortunately, it was only after Harley became so ill that he had to be hospitalized that they really took me seriously,” Paige said. “They had no choice but to do something.”
She said that before her son was admitted to the hospital, she would be constantly exposed. Even pediatric dietitians would say things like “All toddlers are pushy,” “It’s just a phase,” and “He eats whenever he wants.”
The 24-year-old mother said doctors diagnosed him with a milk allergy shortly after he was born with a healthy weight of 6 pounds and 7 ounces.
He drank alternative milk like oatmeal, and when at the age of 7 months he “got used” to infant formula, he was on the road to growth. As he got older, Paige said, he would happily eat the typical pureed baby food.
“He loved food and ate so much,” Paige said. She said Harley at one point was in the 75th percentile for weight. “He looked so chubby.”
Doctors were amazed at Harley’s refusal to eat
But a dramatic change occurred when Harley was about 14 months old. It was around that time, Paige said, that he developed a series of respiratory infections. “It was breast infection after breast infection,” and he “coughed up to the point that he vomited.”
“It was very stressful to see him suffer,” Paige said.
He was prescribed steroids, but Paige, who works as a bartender, became more and more concerned about his dramatic weight loss. “He started dropping dinners and snacks,” she said. “I was worried he was getting enough nourishment.”
Doctors gave him a throat spray in case the problem was caused by soreness, but Paige said the problem continued. “No one really knew what to do,” she said. She said his weight was recorded in the 7th percentile.
By August 2021, he had lost more than 2 pounds. Paige took him to a gastroenterologist, who gave Harley a battery of tests, but the doctor could not come up with a cause for Harley’s problems.
Meanwhile, as she does in her TikTok video, Paige did everything to persuade her toddler to eat. She tried to give him pasta, chicken breast, vegetables, purees, bread and biscuits, but he consistently refused them all.
“I have given him all kinds of food under the sun in the hope that he will try it,” she said. “But he would not.”
Sometimes Harley, who also has sensory problems, could stomach a small amount of food like chopped chicken nuggets. But he would quickly “walk away from them and we would be back to square one,” Paige said.
She said she would often be patronized by medical staff who said things like, “Is he your first?”, Suggesting she was an anxious and inexperienced mother. “I felt like I was being ignored and no one would listen to me.”
It got so bad that Harley was hospitalized. His weight had dropped to under 22 pounds. Still, doctors continued to struggle with a diagnosis. He received more blood tests and gastrointestinal tests, but the results came back normal.
“He was so weak that he slept 23 hours a day,” Paige said of Harley’s month in hospital in February this year. “When he was awake, he was lying in bed staring out into the room and lethargic.”
A feeding tube has helped the little boy gain weight again
Another gastroenterologist eventually took over Harley’s case and acknowledged the seriousness of the problem.
The toddler was put on a probe and discharged. He has subsequently gained weight – he now weighs much healthier 28 pounds – but he remains without a diagnosis. Paige said he had been referred to Great Ormond Street Hospital, one of the UK’s leading children’s hospitals, for further tests.
“We just want answers,” she said, noting that Harley had recently shown some improvement in eating small amounts of solid food.
She said he has also regained his energy, and despite the probe restricting his movements, he “jumps around” again.
Meanwhile, she gets bombarded with unsolicited advice from TikTokers, who has seen her viral video. One person wrote, “Just feed him and go.” The amateur nutritionist continued, “If he wants to eat, he eats.”
But Paige, who said she was frustrated by some of the “uneducated” comments, said most followers have been supportive.
“I’ve heard from parents of kids who are like Harley,” Paige said. “If our story only helps one child, it’s worth telling.”
A British toddler has refused to eat food since he was 14 months old, which confused doctors. He’s now probe food
Source link A British toddler has refused to eat food since he was 14 months old, which confused doctors. He’s now probe food