Exploring factors related to oral feeding progression in premature infants

Adv Neonatal Care. 2013 Aug;13(4):288-94. doi: 10.1097/ANC.0b013e31829d8c5a.


Purpose: To identify infant and maternal characteristics associated with the pace of progression from the first oral feeding to complete oral feeding.

Subjects: One hundred forty-two stable premature infants who were fully or partially gavage feeding immediately after birth (29 to 34 weeks gestational age at birth).

Design: Exploratory secondary analysis.

Methods: Data are from an ongoing randomized clinical trial of a developmental maternally administered intervention (Hospital to Home Transition-Optimizing Premature Infant's Environment) for mother-infant dyads at high social-environmental risk.

Main outcome measures: Oral feeding progression (transition time from the first attempt to complete oral feeding).

Sample characteristics: The convenience sample of preterm infants consisted of 48.6% male infants; the mean gestational age at birth was 32.4 weeks and mean birth weight 1787 g; and African American mothers (47.9%; n = 80) and Latina mothers (52.1%; n = 83).

Principle results: Multivariable linear regression results showed that, on average, the number of days for infants of Latina mothers to achieve complete oral feeding was 2.43 days more than for infants of African American mothers. In addition, lower birth weight and lower postmenstrual age at first oral feeding were associated with longer feeding progression. Higher infant morbidity was correlated with longer feeding progression.

Conclusion: Infants with Latina mothers, lower birth weight, lower postmenstrual age at first oral feeding, and higher morbidity scores had a longer transition from first to complete oral feeding. Identification of infants at risk for delayed transition from first to complete oral feeding may allow for the development and testing of appropriate interventions that support the transition from gavage to complete oral feeding.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Body Weight
  • Bottle Feeding*
  • Breast Feeding*
  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant Care / methods
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature*
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal*
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Mother-Child Relations
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Neonatal Nursing / methods
  • Risk Factors