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Pacing as a Treatment Technique for Transitional Sucking Patterns


OBJECTIVE: To ascertain whether the implementation of a paced feeding protocol in a sample of preterm infants with respiratory diagnoses will result in the development of more efficient sucking patterns, increased weight gain, decreased incidence of bradycardia during feeding, and shorter length of hospital stay.

METHOD: A total of 36 premature infants were enrolled into a nonrandomized clinical trial conducted in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). The first 18 infants were traditionally bottle-fed. Following this cohort's discharge from NICU, nursing staff completed continuing education on implementing a paced feeding protocol and the next 18 infants were delivered paced feedings.

RESULTS: The two cohorts were equivalent at the initiation of oral feedings on gestational age, birth weight, 1 and 5 minute Apgar scores, weight, and postconceptual age. The paced infants demonstrated statistically and clinically significant decreases in bradycardic incidences during feeding and gains in development of more efficient sucking patterns at discharge. Discharge and average weekly weight gain did not differ between the two groups.

CONCLUSIONS: The incorporation of pacing into NICU care practices appears to be beneficial for preterm infants with respiratory disease.

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We gratefully acknowledge the Intramural Small Grants Program, LSUHSC School of Allied Health Professions for providing financial support for this study.

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Law-Morstatt, L., Judd, D., Snyder, P. et al. Pacing as a Treatment Technique for Transitional Sucking Patterns. J Perinatol 23, 483–488 (2003).

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