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  1. Medoff-Cooper, Barbara PhD, RN
  2. Rankin, Kristin PhD
  3. Li, Zhuoying MS
  4. Liu, Li PhD
  5. White-Traut, Rosemary PhD, RN


Background: Premature infants are at risk for difficulties in feeding, social interaction, and growth. Many premature infants exhibit a lower capacity for self-regulation, resulting in less behavioral alertness and hypersensitivity to stimulation. Feeding is critically important because it is a primary factor for infant growth and a major concern for both parents and clinicians.


Purpose: The aim of this randomized controlled trial was to evaluate sucking organization in premature infants following a preterm infant multisensory intervention, the Auditory, Tactile, Visual, and Vestibular (ATVV) intervention.


Methods: A convenience sample of 183 healthy premature infants born 29-34 weeks postmenstrual age (PMA) enrolled. Sucking organization was measured at baseline, then weekly, during the infant's hospital stay.


Results: A quadratic trend was observed for number of sucks, sucks per burst, and maturity index with the intervention group increasing significantly faster by day 7 (model estimates for group x day: [beta]= 13.69, P < .01; [beta] = 1.16, P < .01; and [beta]= 0.12, P < .05, respectively). Sucking pressure increased linearly over time, with significant between-group differences at day 14 ([beta]= 45.66, P < .01).


Implications for Practice: The ATVV infants exhibited improved sucking organization during hospitalization, suggesting that the ATVV intervention improves maturation of oral feeding.


Implications for Research: Further research that includes 2 or more tests, delivered the same day and/or over consecutive days, will provide researchers and clinicians a more sensitive indicator of maturational changes in feeding behaviors.