Effects of oral stimulation and oral support on non-nutritive sucking and feeding performance in preterm infants

Dev Med Child Neurol. 2007 Jun;49(6):439-44. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8749.2007.00439.x.


This study compared the effects of oral stimulation with those of oral support on non-nutritive sucking and feeding parameters in preterm infants. Preterm infants (23 males, 20 females) born between 29 and less than 34 weeks' gestational age (GA; mean GA 31.2wks [standard error of mean{SEM} 0.39]; mean birth-weight 1580g [SEM 120]) were allocated to one of three experimental groups: (Stimulation+support [five males, four females]; Stimulation [four males, seven females]; and Support [seven males, five females]) or a control group. Non-nutritive sucking pressure and sucking activity were quantified in the gavage and transition periods. Oral support minimizes fluid loss, stabilizes the jaw, and organizes deglutition. The time of transition, the quantity of milk ingested per day, and the number of bottle feeds per day were recorded. Variables were analyzed by repeated-measures analysis of variance, with birth-weight as covariate (ANCOVA). Transition time was reduced (p<0.0001) for the Stimulation+support and Support groups. ANCOVA computed during gavage showed increased non-nutritive sucking pressure and sucking activity (p<0.001) for the Stimulation and Stimulation+support groups. ANCOVA computed during transition revealed increases in non-nutritive sucking pressure and daily bottle feeds (p<0.001) for the three experimental groups and in daily milk ingested (p=0.002) for the Stimulation+support and Support groups. We demonstrated that oral support is the result of both the action of chin and cheek support, and the aid to deglutition. An analysis of the organization of sucking patterns should be undertaken to provide better understanding of the mechanisms involved in oral support.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Deglutition / physiology
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Male
  • Mouth / physiology*
  • Nutritional Support*
  • Physical Stimulation / methods*
  • Sucking Behavior / physiology*
  • Time Factors