Oral-motor dysfunction at 10 months corrected gestational age in infants born less than 37 weeks preterm.

Charlotte A. Buswell, Paula Leslie, Nicholas D. Embleton, Michael J. Drinnan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Feeding difficulties are common in preterm infants. These may be associated with inadequate dietary intake, poor growth, and parental anxiety. Oral-motor dysfunction has been observed in preterm infants during sucking and the early stages of weaning but has not been rigorously studied in later infancy when eating a range of food consistencies. We aimed to establish if oral-motor dysfunction during feeding occurs in preterm infants in later infancy and to explore the relationships with specific neonatal risk factors: gestational age at birth, prolonged supplementary oxygen requirement, and delay in establishing full oral feeding. Infants born less than 37 weeks gestational age were evaluated once at 10 months corrected gestational age using a validated feeding assessment (Schedule for Oral Motor Assessment). Fifteen infants were enrolled (9 males, 6 females; median gestational age at birth = 33 weeks, range = 25–36 weeks; median birth weight = 1890 g, range = 710–2950 g). Oral-motor dysfunction was observed in three infants all born after 31 weeks gestation. No relationship was found with the neonatal risk factors. This study indicates that oral-motor dysfunction may occur in later infancy and is not easily predicted from specific neonatal risk factors. Further study is required to evaluate the true prevalence and the health implications of oral-motor dysfunction in this population in later infancy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-25
Number of pages6
Early online date8 Aug 2008
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2009
Externally publishedYes


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