Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders


Date of this Version



J Neonatal Nurs. 2008 February ; 14(1): 28–34.


Copyright © 2007 Neonatal Nurses Association. Published by Elsevier Ltd.


Objective—To characterize the integrity of non-nutritive suck (NNS) parameters among three groups of preterm infants ranging from normal to those with progressive degrees of respiratory distress syndrome (RDS).

Study Design—NNS compression waveforms were sampled from 55 infants in the neonatal intensive care unit using a silicone pacifier electronically instrumented for intraluminal pressure. Seven select NNS parameters were measured at two different sessions, and statistically analyzed using a General Linear Model Analysis of Covariance.

Results and Conclusions—Preterm infants with a more extensive history of RDS and oxygen therapy manifest significantly (p≤0.001) degraded performance on six of the seven NNS measures. This trend was disproportionately amplified in preterm infants with moderate-to-severe RDS. Prolonged periods of RDS requiring oxygen therapy may cause maladaptive orosensory experiences, and restrict oral movements which may contribute to delayed NNS development.