Factors Associated with Infant Feeding Difficulties in the Very Preterm Infant.

Acta Paediatr. 2013 Aug 17.

Factors Associated with Infant Feeding Difficulties in the Very Preterm Infant.

Crapnell T, Rogers C, Neil J, Inder T, Woodward L, Pineda R.




To investigate early medical and family factors associated with later feeding risk in preterm infants.

For this longitudinal study, we enrolled 136 infants born ≤30 weeks gestation. Medical and social background factors were assessed at term equivalent age. Infants underwent magnetic resonance imaging, neurobehavioral evaluation, and feeding assessment. Parent involvement in the neonatal intensive care unit was tracked, and maternal mental health was assessed at discharge. At age two years, feeding outcome was assessed using the Eating Subscale of the Infant-Toddler Social Emotional Assessment (n=80). Associations between feeding problems at age two and 1) early medical factors, 2) neurobehavioral functioning and feeding at term equivalent age, 3) cerebral structure, and 4) maternal mental health were investigated using regression.

Eighteen (23%) children had feeding problems at age two years. Feeding problems were associated with early hypotonia (p=0.03; β=0.29) and lower socioeconomic status (p=0.046; β=-0.22). No associations were observed between early medical factors, early feeding performance, cerebral structure alterations or maternal well-being and feeding outcome.

Early hypotonia may disrupt the development of oral-motor skills. Hypotonia and poor feeding also may share a common etiology. Associations with lower socioeconomic status highlight the influence of family background factors in feeding problems in the preterm infant.

Source: Depamertnts of Occupational Therapy, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis.



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