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Individualizing Oral Feeding Assessment and Therapies in the Newborn

Authors Azuma D, Maron JL

Received 6 March 2020

Accepted for publication 1 May 2020

Published 20 May 2020 Volume 2020:10 Pages 23—30


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Robert Schelonka

Dara Azuma,1 Jill L Maron2

1Division of Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine, Tufts Medical Center, Boston, MA, USA; 2Mother Infant Research Institute, Tufts Medical Center, Boston, MA, USA

Correspondence: Jill L Maron
Mother Infant Research Institute, Tufts Medical Center, 800 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02111 Tel +1-617-636-0766
Fax +1-617-636-1469

Abstract: Oral feeding competency is a milestone most infants must achieve prior to discharge. It is a developmentally complex task that requires integration of multiple sensory inputs, central nervous system maturation, motor coordination, and respiratory stability. While ensuring safety during oral feeding is important to reduce morbidities, we must optimize developmental windows to expedite feeding maturation. Currently, many of the assessments and therapies related to oral feeding skills focus solely on nutritive and non-nutritive sucking. Yet, this essential reflex is only one component of oral feeding. Specific challenges faced by individual newborns are often unique, and delays in development in any one of the many systems involved in oral feeding can lead to prolonged oral feeding maturation. Expanding the field to go beyond targeting oral motor skills to consider all aspects of feeding maturity, inclusive of sensory integration and hunger signaling, is needed to advance care. As technology continues to develop at a rapid pace, the field must compare the efficacy of these clinical and technologic assessments and therapies. In this review, we will address the complexity of neonatal feeding, review assessment tools and interventions for feeding safety and developmental readiness, and propose an individualized, multi-faceted approach to oral feeding evaluation and intervention.

Keywords: oral feeding, neonate, prematurity

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