The purpose of this study was to compare sucking and breathing rhythmicity in very-low-birth-weight (VLBW, < 1,500 g) infants during morning feedings and afternoon feedings. Nine infants were fed at 9 a.m., and nine at 3 p.m. Eight morning-fed infants and 8 afternoon-fed infants had a continuous sucking (CS) period at the beginning of the feeding; 9 morning-and 8 afternoon-fed infants had an intermittent sucking (IS) period during which sucking bursts alternated with sucking pauses. Morning-fed infants had a lower respiratory rate during CS (p < 1) and IS (p < 05), a greater decrease in minute ventilation from the prefeed period to the CS period (p < 05), and lower sucking pressure during IS (p < 05) than afternoon-fed infants. Breathing and sucking rhythmicity scores were calculated as an indicator of the coordination of sucking and breathing. Morning-fed infants had lower scores than afternoon-fed infants (p < 05). These findings suggest that morning feedings are more difficult than afternoon feedings for VLBW infants and point to the need for further studies to compare morning and afternoon feedings.
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