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Dysphagia and Oral Feeding Problems in the Premature Infant

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FEEDING DISORDERS AND dysphagia are common problems seen in premature infants following their discharge from the NICU. A major factor in the growing incidence of these problems is the number of infants born and surviving between 23 and 25 weeks gestational age, which has increased dramatically over the past decade. These infants experience both a lengthier exposure to noxious oral stimuli and a longer time until they develop the suck/swallow coordination that makes oral feeding safe.1 Oral feeding is generally not offered before 32–34 weeks gestational age, when the preterm infant's sucking pattern begins to resemble that of a term infant.2,3 Therefore, there may be an 8- to 9-week lag between birth and oral feedings in a 23- or 24-week gestational age infant.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2002

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