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Nurs Res. 1988 Nov-Dec;37(6):347-50.

Effect of nonnutritive sucking on behavioral state in preterm infants before feeding.

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  • 1College of Nursing, University of Florida, Gainesville 32610.


To describe the effect of nonnutritive sucking (NNS) on behavioral state (BSt) in preterm infants before feedings 24 preterm infants were randomly assigned and studied before each of their first 16 bottle feedings. Twelve received NNS by pacifier for 5 minutes; 12 did not receive a pacifier. BSt was measured with a 12-category scale for 30 seconds before the 5-minute period (BSt1) and for 30 seconds after (BSt2). Sleep states decreased for both groups. BSts considered more optimal for feeding increased more during NNS (86 vs. 46). Restless states were three times less frequent after NNS (23 vs. 68). Differences between groups were nonsignificant at BSt1, but were significant at BSt2, p less than .001. In the absence of self-regulatory feeding policies based on early hunger cues, NNS for 5 minutes prefeeding is simple, brief, and suitable for implementation in busy neonatal intensive care units. Nonnutritive sucking was an effective modulator of behavioral state for this sample.

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