Objective: To examine the effects of bronchiolitis on feeding efficiency and respiratory integration.
Study design: We studied 21 infants with bronchiolitis and 21 bottle-fed healthy infants who formed a comparison group. Repeat evaluations of half the bronchiolitis group were performed during recovery. During each feeding study we measured the duration and frequency of sucking, the frequency of single and multiple swallows, the respiratory rate, the postswallow respiratory direction, and the suck and swallow volumes.
Results: The infants with bronchiolitis devoted significantly less time to sucking than their healthy peers (P <.05), and the mean suck volume was reduced. Although the frequency of swallowing was slightly higher, the volume of milk consumed per swallow was almost half the amount consumed by the comparison group (P <.01). Coordination of breathing with swallowing was also less effective (P <.01).
Conclusion: Although most aspects of feeding are less efficient during periods of respiratory illness, others are preserved or recover rapidly. Coordination of breathing during feeding is also significantly impaired.