Interventions to Improve the Oral Feeding Performance of Preterm Infants

Acta Pediatrica, 03/29/2012

Lau C et al. – The swallowing exercise is an efficacious intervention in facilitating attainment of independent oral feeding, but not the sucking exercise. The authors speculate that the swallowing benefit resulted from an accelerated maturation of infants’ oral feeding skills (OFS) levels.

Methods

  • Very low birthweight infants were randomized to a control, sucking, and swallowing group.
  • Sucking consisted of active sucking on a pacifier and swallowing of placing a milk bolus (0.05 to 0.2 ml) on the tongue where the bolus rests prior to entering the pharynx. Primary outcome was days from start to independent oral feeding (SOF-IOF).
  • Secondary outcomes included overall transfer (OT, % volume taken/volume prescribed), proficiency (PRO, % volume taken at 5 min/volume prescribed), rate of transfer (RT, ml/min) over the entire feeding, and infant OFS levels. OFS levels were defined by PRO and RT.

Results

  • Days from SOF-IOF vs controls (21±2) were similar for the sucking group (19±2), and shorter for the swallowing group (15±2; p=0.019).
  • Only the latter infants demonstrated more mature OFS levels than controls.

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