Patterned orocutaneous therapy improves sucking and oral feeding in preterm infants.

Acta Paediatr. 2008 Jul;97(7):920-7. Epub 2008 May 7.

Patterned orocutaneous therapy improves sucking and oral feeding in preterm infants.

Poore M, Zimmerman E, Barlow SM, Wang J, Gu F.

Department of Speech-Language-Hearing: Sciences and Disorders, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66045-7555, USA.


AIM: To determine whether NTrainer patterned orocutaneous therapy affects preterm infants’ non-nutritive suck and/or oral feeding success.

SUBJECTS: Thirty-one preterm infants (mean gestational age 29.3 weeks) who demonstrated minimal non-nutritive suck output and delayed transition to oral feeds at 34 weeks post-menstrual age.

INTERVENTION: NTrainer treatment was provided to 21 infants. The NTrainer promotes non-nutritive suck output by providing patterned orocutaneous stimulation through a silicone pacifier that mimics the temporal organization of suck.

METHOD: Infants’ non-nutritive suck pressure signals were digitized in the NICU before and after NTrainer therapy and compared to matched controls. Non-nutritive suck motor pattern stability was calculated based on infants’ time- and amplitude-normalized digital suck pressure signals, producing a single value termed the Non-Nutritive Suck Spatiotemporal Index. Percent oral feeding was the other outcome of interest, and revealed the NTrainer’s ability to advance the infant from gavage to oral feeding.

RESULTS: Multilevel regression analyses revealed that treated infants manifest a disproportionate increase in suck pattern stability and percent oral feeding, beyond that attributed to maturational effects alone.

CONCLUSION: The NTrainer patterned orocutaneous therapy effectively accelerates non-nutritive suck development and oral feeding success in preterm infants who are at risk for oromotor dysfunction

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