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A descriptive evaluation of early feeding development of infants in a local neonatal unit

Harding, C. ORCID: 0000-0002-5192-2027, Bell, N., Griffiths, S. & Michou, E. (2023). A descriptive evaluation of early feeding development of infants in a local neonatal unit. Journal of Neonatal Nursing, 29(4), pp. 681-686. doi: 10.1016/j.jnn.2022.11.018


A local neonatal unit undertook a descriptive evaluation of feeding development of infants receiving care so as to identify and maximise effective neonatal team care and support.

A retrospective data review examined infant feeding development from one local neonatal unit. Data were stratified according to gestational birth age and included infant health, post – menstrual age on introduction of oral feeding, oral feeding progression, method of feeding and re-admission to hospital in the first 12 months of life.

A total of 150 infants met the criteria for inclusion in this retrospective review. Infants ranged in age from 23(+0) – 42(+2) gestational birth ages. Number of days on the neonatal unit ranged from 1 to 159 (mean = 25.87) days. Extremely preterm (EPT) infants experienced a significantly longer stay on the neonatal unit, had the highest number of respiratory problems, took significantly longer to achieve full oral feeding and tended to start oral feeding at a significantly later post - menstrual age compared with other infants. A high number of infants needed to access acute services post - discharge from the neonatal unit.

All infants regardless of gestational birth age were at risk of developing feeding problems and hospital re-admissions post neonatal discharge. EPT infants were significantly vulnerable to poor feeding outcomes. Parent and team working is necessary to identify and support complex infants.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2023. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
Publisher Keywords: Neonate, Neonatal unit, Infant swallowing, Oral feeding, Preterm and term infants
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
R Medicine > RJ Pediatrics
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Language & Communication Science
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