Skip to Content

About Rumination Disorder


Rumination disorder is a condition that is charactertized by the regurgitation of food and subsequent chewing and swallowing of the same food.

The condition usually occurs in infants, however it can sometimes affect children, teens and adults.


The cause of rumination disorder is unknown, but a lack of stimulation or physical touch, neglect or high-stress environments may trigger the disorder in infants. It has also been associated with mental retardation. The condition usually starts after age 3 months and will occur after the baby has eaten and digested a meal.


An individual with rumination disorder makes the effort to regurgitate food that has already been consumed. Then, the person either spits out the food (usually only babies do this) or re-chews the food and swallows it. Babies can often be seen putting their fingers in their mouths or sucking on the tongue, which can trigger the gag reflex. The person may appear to find the rumination pleasurable.


Treatment outcomes for rumination disorder often depend on the cause of the condition. For infants, this might mean being fed by a different person - if the cause is thought to be a lack of affection from one parent. For adults, giving patients chewing gum during times when rumination might occur can help. Underlying eating disorder symptoms may also need to be treated before rumination can be cured in adults, which might include things like cognitive-behavioral therapy.


For babies, rumination often goes away on its own. However, it should still be treated, as infants with the condition are at risk for things like malnutrition or dehydration. Treatment outcomes for adults are generally good, provided that associated eating disorders are also addressed.

Source: New York Times