Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders


Document Type


Date of this Version



J Neonatal Nurs. 2008 December ; 14(6): 185–192.


Copyright © 2008 Neonatal Nurses Association. Published by Elsevier Ltd


Sensory deprivation and motor restriction associated with extensive oxygen therapy may lead to poor oromotor control in preterm infants. Non-nutritive suck is one of the first complex oromotor behaviors infants perform. This study determined the spatiotemporal variability of non-nutritive suck (NNS) pressure trajectories in three preterm groups with differing oxygen histories—one control group with minimal or no O2 therapy, and two Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS) groups with either a mild/moderate (RDS1) or moderate/severe (RDS2) O2 history. The Non-nutritive Suck Spatiotemporal Index (NNS STI) quantifies spatial and temporal variability across kinematic trajectories, and was calculated from digital representations of infants’ suck pressure signals. An ANCOVA revealed a significant effect for group (p < .001) on the NNS STI measure, with RDS2 infants showing highly variable NNS patterning, and thus relatively underdeveloped suck. Extensive oxygen therapy, which alters the oral sensory environment and reduces motor experiences, disrupts the development of coordinated NNS in preterm infants.