Babies who are born extremely prematurely are often fed via a tube either up their nose or into their stomach. Generally speaking the earlier babies can eat through their mouths the better and in this study Michael D. Kamitsuka, from the Swedish Medical Centre in Seattle, led a team of researchers looking into the effectiveness of a new oral-feeding protocol. The protocol involved four steps:
- Encouraging sucking (on things other than food) before 30 weeks
- Oral motor exercises starting as early as 30 weeks
- Swallowing exercises as early as 31 weeks
- An infant-driven oral-feeding pathway as early as 32 weeks
and was found to lead to earlier oral feeding, full oral feeding happening sooner and a reduced incidence of babies still being fed via a tube when they were sent home.
You can read the abstract of this article here.