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Title: Feeding behaviour in term and preterm infants
Author: Craig, Cathy
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1997
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My thesis has been concerned with monitoring the feeding behaviour of preterm infants born at a low gestation and birthweight, who are at risk of developing neurological problems. These infants often have difficulty co-ordinating the different mechanisms of feeding, namely sucking, swallowing and breathing. Particular attention was paid to sucking, viewing it as a precocious motor skill. By using a new dimension of the tau theory of motor control, namely the intrinsic tau-pacemaker model, normal sucking control was established by examining the intra oral sucking pressures of twelve term newborns. The results supported a strong coupling between the tau of the pressure generated inside the mouth and an intrinsic tau-pacemaker. Six preterm infants born at less than 30 weeks gestational age and classified as neurologically at risk, were also tested from when they started bottle feeding, and for a period of four weeks thereafter. Their sucking pressures were analysed in the same way, and were individually compared to the standard set by the newborn terms. Large deviations from term norms were hypothesised to be indicative of neurological abnormalities. Irregularities in sucking control were found, but as expected, the extent of the variation differed between infants. Follow up movement assessments, when four of the infants were greater than six months corrected age, were performed by a physiotherapist. The physiotherapist's assessment of motor development at this stage appeared to reflect the findings obtained for the infants' sucking control. Breathing measurements were also recorded, and modulations in the pattern during feeding were noted. Again a newborn term pattern was established, and preterm infants were compared. As before, all the preterm infants tested had differing degrees of respiratory difficulty. Breathing problems were evident from significantly lower levels of oxygen concentration in the blood, and a significant difference in the timing and depth of the breaths during the sucking and pause periods of feeding.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available