Neonatal Sucking As A Clinical Assessment Tool: Preliminary Findings

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The sucking patterns of 42 healthy full-term and 44 preterm infants whose gestational age at birth was 30.9 ± 2.1 weeks were compared using the Kron Nutritive Sucking Apparatus for a 5-minute period. The measured pressures were used to calculate six characteristics of the sucking response: maximum pressure generated, amount of nutrient consumed per suck, number of sucks per episode, the duration or width of each suck, the length of time between sucks, and the length of time between sucking episodes. The maximum pressure of the term infant (100.3 ± 35) was higher, p < .05, than the maximum pressure of the preterm infant (84 ± 33). Term infants also consumed more formula per suck (45.3 ± 20.3 vs. 37.6 ± 15.9, p < .05). In addition, they had more sucks/ episode (13.6 ± 8.7 vs. 7.7 ± 4.1, p < .001) and maintained the pressure longer for a wider suck width (0.49 ± 0.1 vs. 0.45 ± 0.08, p < .05). Sucking profiles of the preterm infant are significantly different from the full- term infant. These sucking profiles can be developed as a clinically useful tool for nursing practice.

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