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Authors

  1. Horner, Susan MS, APN/CNS, RNC-NIC
  2. Simonelli, Ann Marie MS, APN/NNP
  3. Schmidt, Holly MS, CCC-SLP, MBA
  4. Cichowski, Kristin MA, CCC-SLP
  5. Hancko, Mimi MS, APN/NNP
  6. Zhang, Gang MS
  7. Ross, Erin Sundseth PhD, CCC-SLP

Abstract

To evaluate the impact of implementing the Supporting Oral Feeding in Fragile Infants (SOFFI) program in a tertiary-level neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) on the oral feeding, growth, and length of stay outcomes of a heterogeneous population of medically fragile infants at discharge and feeding and growth outcomes postdischarge at 3 to 5 months postterm. Data related to feeding, growth, and length of stay from a convenience sample of 81 infants recruited pre-SOFFI training were compared with data for 75 infants recruited post-SOFFI training of the NICU staff. Subjects were not excluded on the basis of level of illness or medical diagnoses. To establish comparability of subject groups, infants were assigned scores using the Neonatal Medical Index. At 3 to 5 months postterm, semistructured parent phone interviews related to feeding and growth at home were conducted (n = 128). Post-SOFFI infants born at less than 37 weeks' gestation achieved full oral feedings in significantly fewer days than pre-SOFFI infants (P = .01). Time to achieve full oral feedings was not significantly different in post-SOFFI infants born at 37 or more weeks' gestation. Growth and length of stay were not significantly different at discharge. At follow-up, parents of post-SOFFI infants reported significantly fewer feeding problems overall (P = .01), less arching (P = .003), less vomiting (P = .006), and fewer infants seeing feeding specialists (P = .03). Results of the study support that NICU implementation of the SOFFI feeding program positively influences feeding outcomes before and following discharge.