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Feeding infants before examination for retinopathy of prematurity reduces stress

August 09, 2017

A total of 34 infants were enrolled in the study, with 57 separate eye examinations conducted. Premature infants in Neonatal Intensive Care Units are typically fed every 2 to 3 hours. For 22 infants, feeding was scheduled at 1 hour before the exam. For 12 infants, feeding schedules were adjusted so that no feeding occurred in the 2 hours before the exam. For the first group, there was 19% less crying, 3 times less vomiting, lower gastric aspirates, lower diastolic blood pressure, and higher respiratory rate during the examination, although pulse rate was greater at the start of the examination.

Neonatal pain may result in increased pain sensitivity over time, altered responses to pain later in life, and possible short- and long-term changes in neural development as suggested by animal studies on brain and spinal cord development. Since the ROP examination is known to cause distress in neonates, any actions to reduce this distress will likely be beneficial.

The article is "Relationship between feeding schedules and gastric distress during retinopathy of prematurity screening eye examinations" by Yi Ning J. Strube, MD, FRCSC, Jeffrey A. Bakal, PhD PStat, and Brian W. Arthur, MD, FRCSC. It appears in the Journal of AAPOS, Volume 14, Issue 4 (August 2010) published by Elsevier.

Source: Elsevier Health Sciences