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infant, neurobehavioral development, sucking



  1. Medoff-Cooper, Barbara PhD, FAAN
  2. Ratcliffe, Sarah J. PhD


The purpose of this study was twofold: (1) to explore potential changes in the Brazelton Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale (BNBAS) from 40 to 44 weeks postconceptional age (PCA) and (2) to determine the relationship between the BNBAS scores and feeding behaviors in preterm infants at 40 and 44 weeks PCA. The BNBAS and sucking behavior measurements were completed on 104 preterm infants at 40 and 44 weeks PCA. The Orientation (p = .001), Motor (p = .001), Range of State (p = .001), Autonomic Regulation (p = .01), and Reflexes (p = .00) clusters were significantly more mature at 44 weeks PCA than at 40 weeks. Infants that were extremely early born (n = 24) had a significantly larger change in BNBAS scores over time as compared to the more mature preterm infants (n = 77), largely catching up with their more mature preterm counterparts. At 40 and 44 weeks PCA, the BNBAS cluster scores for orientation (p = .02), motor (p = .048), range of state (p = .048), and regulation of state (p < .001) were significantly related to the average maximum pressure, adjusted for gestational age and weeks PCA. Significant neurobehavioral maturation takes place between 40 and 44 weeks PCA in preterm infants, with the greatest changes occurring in the most preterm infants. These findings highlight the relationship between neurobehavioral maturation and feeding behaviors.