Five-year-old girl's food phobia battle

7News Adelaide

Young Emma Coles loves helping her mum to feed her little brothers, as long as she doesn't have to eat too.

Five-year-old Emma suffers from a severe food phobia and has never eaten solid food, surviving completely from a nutrient-rich milk formula.

Emma was born prematurely in 2006, weighing in at only 510 grams and had to be tube-fed for months.

She then suffered from further medical complications, like chronic lung disease, and because of this, had to continue being tube-fed.

Her family blames her health issues for her aversion to food and have tried everything to get her to eat.

"We've done lots of therapy and the closest we've got is getting her to put some teeth marks in some carrots and a bit of capsicum," her mother, Roslyn Coles, told 7News.

Even crumbs cause Emma to gag.

"I just don't like eating because... it makes me scared," she said.

While Emma has taken part in specialised feeding programs, she has been seen by specialists at the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne and the Monash Medical Centre, her family have found there is nowhere left in Australia to turn to for a solution.

They're now setting their sights on the United States, hoping to enrol her into a specialised intensive feeding program in Colorado.

Her parents are hoping the treatment will work, before she has to start school.

But there is a price tag.

The 'STAR Centre' in Colorado charges up to $1,000 per therapy session, and her family is unsure how long they'll stay.

Mum, Roslyn, said the family wants to stay for as long as it takes to get her to start eating.

"Her birthday is in April, it would be lovely if she could finally eat some birthday cake."