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  1. Park, Jinhee PhD, MSN, RN
  2. Thoyre, Suzanne PhD, RN, FAAN
  3. Knafl, George J. PhD
  4. Hodges, Eric A. PhD, FNP-BC
  5. Nix, William B. BMET, BA


Very preterm (VP, <=30 wk gestational age) infants are at risk for impaired lung function, which significantly limits their ability to eat. A semielevated side-lying (ESL) position is a feeding strategy that may improve oral feeding by supporting breathing during feeding. The study evaluated the efficacy of the ESL position compared with the semielevated supine (ESU) position on physiological stability and feeding performance of bottle-fed VP infants. Using a within-subject crossover design, 6 VP infants were bottle-fed twice on 1 day, in both the ESL and ESU positions in a random order. Physiological stability (heart rate, oxygen saturation [SaO2], and respiratory characteristics) and feeding performance (percent intake, proficiency, efficiency, and duration of feeding) were measured before and/or during feeding. Very preterm infants fed in the ESL position demonstrated significantly less variation in heart rate, less severe and fewer decreases in heart rate, respiratory rate that was closer to the prefeeding state, shorter and more regular intervals between breaths, and briefer feeding-related apneic events. No significant differences for SaO2 or feeding performance were found. The findings indicate that the ESL position may support better regulation of breathing during feeding, thereby allowing VP infants to better maintain physiological stability throughout feeding.