A descriptive evaluation of early feeding development of infants in a local neonatal unit

Celia Harding, Nicoll Bell, Sara Griffiths, Emilia Michou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: A local neonatal unit undertook a descriptive evaluation of feeding development of infants receiving care so as to identify and maximise effective neonatal team care and support. Method: A retrospective data review examined infant feeding development from one local neonatal unit. Data were stratified according to gestational birth age and included infant health, post – menstrual age on introduction of oral feeding, oral feeding progression, method of feeding and re-admission to hospital in the first 12 months of life. Results: A total of 150 infants met the criteria for inclusion in this retrospective review. Infants ranged in age from 23(+0) – 42(+2) gestational birth ages. Number of days on the neonatal unit ranged from 1 to 159 (mean = 25.87) days. Extremely preterm (EPT) infants experienced a significantly longer stay on the neonatal unit, had the highest number of respiratory problems, took significantly longer to achieve full oral feeding and tended to start oral feeding at a significantly later post - menstrual age compared with other infants. A high number of infants needed to access acute services post - discharge from the neonatal unit. Conclusions: All infants regardless of gestational birth age were at risk of developing feeding problems and hospital re-admissions post neonatal discharge. EPT infants were significantly vulnerable to poor feeding outcomes. Parent and team working is necessary to identify and support complex infants.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Neonatal Nursing
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022


  • Infant swallowing
  • Neonatal unit
  • Neonate
  • Oral feeding
  • Preterm and term infants


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