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  1. Medoff-Cooper, Barbara
  2. Gennaro, Susan


The purpose of this study was to identify early predictors of developmental outcomes in infants of very low birth weight (<= 1,500 g). The sample consisted of 19 infants with a mean birth weight of 1,238 g and a mean gestational age at birth of 29.1 weeks. The instruments used were the Kron Nutritive Sucking Apparatus, the Neonatal Morbidity Scale, and the Bayley Scales of Infant Development (BSID). Mean pressure generated by each suck and the length of sucking bursts were positively correlated (p < .05) with the Psychomotor Scale of the BSID. As a predictor of developmental outcomes at 6 months of age, nutritive sucking demonstrated a 78% specificity and an 80% sensitivity, as compared with neonatal morbidity, 58% and 69%, respectively. In a small sample of relatively healthy preterm infants, their ability to suck helped identify those with questionable early development.