Patterned orocutaneous therapy improves sucking and oral feeding in preterm infants

M. Poore, E. Zimmerman, S. M. Barlow, J. Wang, F. Gu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Aim: To determine whether NTrainer patterned orocutaneous therapy affects preterm infants' non-nutritive suck and/or oral feeding success. Subjects: Thirty-one preterm infants (mean gestational age 29.3 weeks) who demonstrated minimal non-nutritive suck output and delayed transition to oral feeds at 34 weeks post-menstrual age. Intervention: NTrainer treatment was provided to 21 infants. The NTrainer promotes non-nutritive suck output by providing patterned orocutaneous stimulation through a silicone pacifier that mimics the temporal organization of suck. Method: Infants' non-nutritive suck pressure signals were digitized in the NICU before and after NTrainer therapy and compared to matched controls. Non-nutritive suck motor pattern stability was calculated based on infants' time- and amplitude-normalized digital suck pressure signals, producing a single value termed the Non-Nutritive Suck Spatiotemporal Index. Percent oral feeding was the other outcome of interest, and revealed the NTrainer's ability to advance the infant from gavage to oral feeding. Results: Multilevel regression analyses revealed that treated infants manifest a disproportionate increase in suck pattern stability and percent oral feeding, beyond that attributed to maturational effects alone. Conclusion: The NTrainer patterned orocutaneous therapy effectively accelerates non-nutritive suck development and oral feeding success in preterm infants who are at risk for oromotor dysfunction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)920-927
Number of pages8
JournalActa Paediatrica, International Journal of Paediatrics
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Feeding therapy
  • Non-nutritive suck
  • Oromotor control
  • Suck central pattern generator
  • Suck spatiotemporal variability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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