Feeding and Swallowing Difficulties in Neonates: Developmental Physiology and Pathophysiology

Clin Perinatol. 2020 Jun;47(2):223-241. doi: 10.1016/j.clp.2020.02.005. Epub 2020 Feb 19.


Development of enteral and oral feeding milestones in infants is intricately linked to physiologic maturation of the gastrointestinal tract and its complex interplay with cardiorespiratory and central nervous system control and coordination. Assessment of an infant's developmental skills and maturation can guide us with targeted management approaches and prediction of feeding outcomes. In this article, we review and summarize the developmental aspects of oral feeding and swallowing physiology, and current understanding of the pathophysiological changes associated with feeding difficulties in infants.

Keywords: Dysphagia; Oral feeding; Preterm infants; Suck-swallow-breath.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Deglutition / physiology*
  • Deglutition Disorders / congenital*
  • Deglutition Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Sucking Behavior / physiology*