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Learning to eat, at age 4: Preschooler with Crohn’s disease uses feeding tube system for first few years of her life

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Like everything else about 4-year-old Leah Southard, from her tumbling brown hair to her little pink and gray sneakers, the kid-size backpack she wears is darn cute.

And she wears it almost all the time, everywhere. She must be channeling Dora the Explorer, strangers comment with a smile.

Not exactly.

Leah can’t remove her backpack for long because it’s her nutritional lifeline, what keeps her going, literally. Zipped inside is a pump and formula. Leah gets…

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