What You Need To Know If Your Newborn Requires A Feeding Tube


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When a baby is born, he or she might require a feeding tube if they are not gaining enough weight or because of brain damage suffered during pregnancy or childbirth due to a doctor’s negligence.

For parents, this can be a traumatic and scary time navigating how to feed your child.

What is a feeding tube?

A feeding tube, also known as a gavage tube, is a small, soft tube placed through the nose or mouth into the stomach. It is used to give nutrition to babies who struggle to or cannot eat on their own. Oral medications can also be administered through the tube.

Usually, a feeding tube is administered in a hospital, but at times can also be used at home. Some feeding tubes can be inserted and removed after each feeding, where others stay in place for multiple feedings.

A feeding tube can be used to give the newborn both breastmilk or formula.

Why does a newborn need a feeding tube?

  • Sick, weak or premature newborns can struggle to suck or swallow well enough to breast or bottle feed on their own.
  • Doctors may recommend a feeding tube if an infant is not gaining weight, has any gastrointestinal defects, can’t swallow or is in respiratory distress.
  • If during pregnancy or labor the newborn suffered any brain damage, it could affect their ability to feed naturally. This would require them to need a feeding tube.
  • If your child has a medical condition that would hinder them from keeping a healthy weight, a feeding tube may also be necessary.

How long can a baby be on a feeding tube?

How long an infant needs a feeding tube depends on what condition or issue is affecting your child.

For some babies, a feeding tube is only necessary until they gain enough strength to eat on their own. For others with permanent brain damage or severe medical condition, a feeding tube may be needed for the rest of their life. Occupational and physical therapy may help wean them off of the tube at some point.

Does a feeding tube hurt a baby?

The risks to feeding tubes exist but are minimal. During the insertion of the tube it may become uncomfortable for the infant, no matter how gently it is done.

In some cases, feeding tubes can cause nasal irritation, bleeding or infection, which would cause the infant some discomfort.

What should I do if I think my baby needed a feeding tube due to medical malpractice?

If you believe your baby’s need for a feeding tube is the result of negligence on the part of a doctor, you may have a medical malpractice case.

Ross Feller Casey has a national reputation for winning serious birth injury lawsuits, including those involving conditions that require the use of feeding tubes. Our firm has a team of Ivy-League trained doctors right on staff who are there to help litigate birth injury lawsuits on your behalf. We handle all our cases on a contingency basis. That means you will not pay a thing until we make a financial recovery in your case.

Disclaimer: Ross Feller Casey, LLP provides legal advice only after an attorney-client relationship is formed. Our website is an introduction to the firm and does not create a relationship between our attorneys and clients. An attorney-client relationship is formed only after a written agreement is signed by the client and the firm. Because every case is unique, the description of awards and summary of cases successfully handled are not intended to imply or guarantee that same success in other cases. Ross Feller Casey, LLP represents catastrophically injured persons and their families in injury and wrongful death cases, providing legal representation in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.