Respiratory distress syndrome degrades the fine structure of the non-nutritive suck in preterm infants

Susan L. Stumm, Steven M. Barlow, Meredith Estep, Jaehoon Lee, Susan Cannon, Joy Carlson, Donald Finan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Aims and objectives: Suck development is a challenging hurdle for preterm infants who endure an extensive oxygen history due to respiratory distress syndrome (RDS). The fine structure of the non-nutritive suck (NNS) was studied in preterm infants according to RDS severity. Design and methods: Recordings of NNS were completed cribside in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in 55 preterm infants distributed among one healthy control group and two RDS infant groups. NNS pressure amplitude (cm H2O) and within-burst suck cycle period (ms) were the dependent measures extracted from digitized records of pacifier nipple compression pressure. Results and conclusions: RDS preterm infants demonstrated significant differences in NNS suck pressure amplitude compared to healthy preterm infants. Periods of oxygen supplementation restrict orofacial movement and limit orosensory experiences necessary for suck development and neural maturation. RDS infants may be excellent candidates for patterned oral stimulation programs designed to advance the maturation of sucking skills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-16
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neonatal Nursing
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Non-nutritive suck (NNS)
  • Oromotor
  • Pressure amplitude
  • Respiratory distress syndrome (RDS)
  • Suck central pattern generator (sCPG)
  • Suck cycle period

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics


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