The Complexity of Transitioning to Oral Feeds in Preterm Infants Transitioning to oral feeds is one of the final tasks that preterm infants need to accomplish before discharge from the neonatal intensive care unit. There are many types of pacifiers and nipples used to accelerate and encourage the development of feeding skills; however, little is known about the impact of ... Article
Article  |   July 01, 2009
The Complexity of Transitioning to Oral Feeds in Preterm Infants
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Emily A. Zimmerman
    Communication Neuroscience Laboratories and Department of Speech-Language-Hearing: Sciences and Disorders, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS
  • Steven M. Barlow
    Communication Neuroscience Laboratories, Department of Speech-Language-Hearing: Sciences and Disorders, and Programs in Neuroscience, Human Biology, and Bioengineering, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS
Article Information
Swallowing, Dysphagia & Feeding Disorders / Healthcare Settings / Articles
Article   |   July 01, 2009
The Complexity of Transitioning to Oral Feeds in Preterm Infants
SIG 5 Perspectives on Speech Science and Orofacial Disorders, July 2009, Vol. 19, 52-57. doi:10.1044/ssod19.1.52
SIG 5 Perspectives on Speech Science and Orofacial Disorders, July 2009, Vol. 19, 52-57. doi:10.1044/ssod19.1.52
Abstract

Transitioning to oral feeds is one of the final tasks that preterm infants need to accomplish before discharge from the neonatal intensive care unit. There are many types of pacifiers and nipples used to accelerate and encourage the development of feeding skills; however, little is known about the impact of the mechanical properties of these nipples on feeding among preterm infants, who often must endure prolonged periods of sensory deprivation, maladaptive inputs, and motor restriction. Many feeding specialists alternate between different nipple types on a trial-and-error basis in an attempt to find the most appropriate nipple type for the infant. Given the complexity of feeding, a more comprehensive understanding of the multiple neural interactions among suck, swallow, airway protection, pharyngoespophageal motility, and digestive mechanisms is needed. Delay or disruption of these processes during a critical phase in late gestation may prevent infants from transitioning successfully to oral feeds and may lead to poor neurodevelopmental outcomes.

Acknowledgments
This work was supported by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (Grant R01 DC003311 to Steven M. Barlow), the National Institutes of Health (Grants P30 HD02528 and P30 DC005803), and the Sutherland Foundation.
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