Oromotor Feeding in Children Born Before 30 Weeks' Gestation and Term-Born Peers at 12 Months' Corrected Age

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Abstract

Objectives

To evaluate oromotor feeding at 12 months' corrected age in children born before 30 weeks' gestational age compared with term-born peers by the use of observational assessment and to examine predictors of oromotor feeding difficulties in children born before 30 weeks.

Study Design

Oromotor feeding was assessed at 12 months' corrected age with the Schedule for Oral Motor Assessment in 90 children born before 30 weeks and 137 term-born children. Feeding outcomes were compared between groups. Sex, gestational age at birth, birth weight, social risk, history of tube feeding, surgery, and respiratory support were analyzed as potential risk factors.

Results

At 12 months' corrected age, 38% of children born before 30 weeks had oromotor feeding difficulties—with greater odds of difficulties than term-born participants (OR 2.21; 95% CI 1.55-3.16). Difficulties were observed with specific food textures (purees, solids, crackers) and areas of oromotor skill (lip and jaw movement, food loss, swallowing). Neonatal surgery (n = 4/89) appeared to be the only predictor of oromotor feeding issues (OR 11.66; 95% CI 1.56-87.23; P = .02).

Conclusions

Children born before 30 weeks presented with greater odds of oromotor feeding problems at 12 months' corrected age than their term-born peers. Neonatal surgery was associated with increased odds of feeding difficulties in children born before 30 weeks. Surveillance and support of oromotor feeding skills for very preterm children is indicated, particularly during their transition to solid foods.

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