Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders


Document Type


Date of this Version



J Neonatal Nurs. 2008 ; 14(1): 9–16.


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


Aims and Objectives—Suck development is a challenging hurdle for preterm infants who endure an extensive oxygen history due to respiratory distress syndrome (RDS). The fine structure of the non-nutritive suck (NNS) was studied in preterm infants according to RDS severity.

Design and Methods—Recordings of NNS were completed cribside in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in 55 preterm infants distributed among one healthy control group and two RDS infant groups. NNS pressure amplitude (cmH20) and within-burst suck cycle period (ms) were the dependent measures extracted from digitized records of pacifier nipple compression pressure.

Results and Conclusions—RDS preterm infants demonstrated significant differences in NNS suck pressure amplitude compared to healthy preterm infants. Periods of oxygen supplementation restrict orofacial movement and limit orosensory experiences necessary for suck development and neural maturation. RDS infants may be excellent candidates for patterned oral stimulation programs designed to advance the maturation of sucking skills.