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J Hum Lact. 2013 May;29(2):205-13. doi: 10.1177/0890334412452933. Epub 2012 Sep 10.

Ultrasound imaging of infant sucking dynamics during the establishment of lactation.

Author information

1
School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, The University of Western Australia, Crawley, Western Australia. 10413297@student.uwa.edu.au

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Infant sucking problems are frequently implicated in early weaning during breastfeeding, yet our understanding of early sucking dynamics is limited.

OBJECTIVE:

This study aimed to describe infant sucking patterns during breastfeeding at secretory activation and determine whether they changed by the time of established lactation.

METHODS:

Sucking patterns and milk intake of 15 breastfeeding infants were assessed on day 3.2 ± 0.8 and later at follow-up, 16.0 (11.3-22.8) days postpartum. Nipple diameters, tongue movement, nipple position, and suck rate during nutritive sucking (NS) and non-nutritive sucking (NNS) were measured from ultrasound scans of the intra-oral cavity during breastfeeding. Milk intake and LATCH scores were also recorded.

RESULTS:

As the tongue lowered during a suck cycle, the nipple increased in size (P < .001), milk flowed into the intra-oral space and the nipple moved closer to the hard-soft palate junction (P < .001). During NS, nipple diameters and the mid-tongue movement were greater than during NNS (P < .001). As the infant aged, the mid-tongue lowered further (P = .002), suck rates became faster (P < .001) and milk intake increased (P = .004), however, no differences were seen for LATCH scores (P = .34).

CONCLUSION:

Differences in tongue movement between NS and NNS suggest that there is an altered sucking action when milk flow is absent. Similar sucking patterns at day 3 and during established lactation imply that infants have a mature sucking pattern in the early postpartum period.

PMID:
22965645
DOI:
10.1177/0890334412452933
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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