OBJECTIVE. We examined the effects of cheek and jaw support on the feeding ability of inefficient feeders born prematurely.

METHOD. Twenty preterm infants served as their own controls. Each infant received either intervention (feeding with oral support) or control (feeding without oral support) for 2 consecutive feedings per day on 2 consecutive days.

RESULTS. Infants displayed a greater intake rate during the intervention feedings, both during the first 5 min (p = .046) and throughout the entire feeding (p = .023). The percentage of leakage during the first 5-min feeding was smaller in the intervention condition than in the control condition (p = .040). No significant differences were found between the two conditions in the sucking, physiological, and alertness variables.

CONCLUSION. Findings confirm oral support as a safe and effective strategy to improve the feeding performance of preterm infants who are poor feeders.

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