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Tuesday, 18 February, 2003, 13:57 GMT
'I dread mealtimes'
Laura eating liquidised food
Laura can only eat liquidised food
The mother of a little girl who needed 20 operations to correct a birth defect that prevents her from swallowing is campaigning for more research into the condition.

Gill Jackson's daughter two-year-old Laura was born with tracheo oesphageal fistula syndrome (TOFS), which stops her from swallowing properly.

About one in every 3,000 babies in the UK is affected by TOFS.

The oesphagus which links her throat to her stomach was not formed properly at birth.

Slap on the back

All Laura's food is liquidised, and her mother has found introducing solid food stressful.

"I worry about other people's reactions and I don't want them to be shocked by seeing a child choking," Ms Jackson said.

Gill Jackson: "I dread mealtimes"

"A couple of times she was unable to breathe because food was blocking her airways, but we usually can tip her up and slap her on the back and the food will dislodge."

"There came a time when she needed more than just milk, and now we feed her liquidised food.

"But I still dread mealtimes."

Ms Jackson, who lives in Burton-on-Trent in Staffordshire, says the Nottingham-based TOFS Association has helped her deal with the problems associated with the condition.

The charity has a newsletter, available on its website, called Chew.


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