Mary Ohmes, M.A.
Education: Bachelor of Science in communication sciences and disorders (May 2010)
Master of Arts in speech-language from the University of Kansas
McNair Project: Thickened Formula as a Diet Modification for Infants with Impaired Swallowing (2009)
Mentor: Jane Mertz Garcia, Ph.D.
Some infants are at risk for feeding and swallowing disorders (dysphagia). Thin liquids such as water or milk often represent the most dangerous consistency for a child or adult to swallow safely, because of their fast transit. The concern is that thin fluids may be easily aspirated into the lungs, creating health risks such as aspiration pneumonia. The use of thickened liquids represents a type of compensation to help slow the flow rate of a thin liquid and make a cohesive bolus that is easier to control in the mouth. Natural thickening agents are often used for infants; those include rice/oat cereal and carbon gum bean. There are many concerns about the use of thickened liquids for adults. Less is known about diet modifications involving infant formula. The ultimate goal is to assure safe oral nutrition to promote infants’ continued growth and development. This project reviews related issues.