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Pediatrics. 1992 Nov;90(5):669-73.

Birth asphyxia alters neonatal intestinal motility in term neonates.

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Department of Pediatrics, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN.


As an extension of an earlier study showing that manometry can identify preterm newborns at risk for feeding intolerance, the authors investigated whether abnormalities of intestinal motor activity underlie the feeding intolerance seen in asphyxiated newborns. Low-compliance perfusion manometry was recorded within the first postnatal week in 25 term neonates admitted consecutively for respiratory diseases. Eleven of these neonates were identified to have experienced birth asphyxia because three concurrent features were present: 1-minute Apgar score of less than 2; 5-minute Apgar score of less than 4; and recurrent seizures within the first 48 postnatal hours. The remaining 14 neonates, who did not have any of these three characteristics, were considered to be nonasphyxiated control neonates. Motor activity differed in nonasphyxiated and asphyxiated neonates during fasting and feeding. During fasting, asphyxiated neonates had less migrating activity than nonasphyxiated neonates. In addition, episodes of motor quiescence and clustered phasic activity were less well organized in asphyxiated neonates. Both groups of neonates displayed a change in motor activity in response to a feeding infusion; however, the response was initiated significantly sooner in asphyxiated than in control neonates. All of the 11 asphyxiated neonates were intolerant of enteral feedings during the first poststudy week, but no control neonate was feeding intolerant. Six of the asphyxiated neonates were reevaluated 1 to 2 weeks later. During this latter study, motor activity in these asphyxiated neonates was similar to that of nonasphyxiated neonates; 5 of 6 of these neonates subsequently tolerated enteral feedings. It is speculated that changes in motor activity underlie the feeding intolerance that asphyxiated neonates typically exhibit.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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