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Acta Paediatr. 2000 Oct;89(10):1196-200.

Non-nutritive sucking by infants exposed to pethidine in utero.

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Department of Pediatrics, University of Göteborg, Sweden.


Obstetric analgesia in the form of pethidine (meperidine) to mothers during delivery has adverse effects on some aspects of the behaviour of their newborn infants. The non-nutritive sucking (NNS) pattern of nine healthy full-term infants exposed to pethidine in utero was compared to that of a control group of infants. The pattern was analysed and quantified using an automatic computer-based method. The results are discussed in the context of endogenous and exogenous opiates and their effect on brain-stem rhythm generators.


The typical NNS pattern with alternating sucking activity (bursts) and pauses is preserved in the exposed infants. There is a significantly lower sucking frequency (md 1.74 vs 1.90 Hz, p = 0.030*) and a tendency to a less stable rhythm in pethidine-exposed infants.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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