This study describes tongue movements of 4- and 5-year-old Down’s syndrome children during eating and then compares the movements to those of age-matched normal children. The study is the second in a long-term project to develop a standardized eating assessment for children.
Tongue movements were monitored in 26 children: 14 were 4 years ± 2 months (8 males, 6 females) and 12 were 5 years ± 2 months (6 males, 6 females). Two different tongue positions were quantified: 1) as food was presented to the child when the food was 5 cm from the lips; and 2) as food was swallowed. The childrens’ ages and gender along with the type of food affected tongue position on food presentation; however, only the childrens’ ages and gender affected tongue position on swallowing. In general, most tongue positions of Down’s syndrome children were characterized by 1) a forward placement of the tongue in the mouth, and 2) the absence of the maturational changes in normal children of the same age.