The Effect of Oral Motor Intervention on Oral Feeding Readiness and Feeding Progression in Preterm Infants

Document Type: Original Article


1 Department of Nursing, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Community Nursing Research Center, Zahedan University of Medical Sciences, Zahedan, Iran

2 School of Nursing, Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, IL, USA


Background: Advances in neonatal intensive care have markedly improved survival in preterm infants. These babies need hospitalization due to the immaturity of the respiratory and digestive systems. The timing for the initiation of proper feeding in premature infants admitted to neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) is an important challenge for physicians, parents, and nurses. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate the effect of oral motor intervention (OMI) on the early onset of oral feeding in preterm infants.
Methods: This clinical trial was carried out on 40 premature infants who were admitted to the NICU of Ali-ibn Abi Talib Hospital, Zahedan, Iran, in 2012 with the gestational age of 28-32 weeks. The subjects were randomly allocated to two equal groups of intervention and control. In the intervention group, 5-minute oral stimulations were performed based on premature infant OMI (PIOMI) by the researcher on a daily basis 15 minutes before gavage for seven days. On the other hand, the control group received routine care. Then, the groups were compared using the premature oral feeding readiness assessment scale in terms of timing, initiation of oral feeding, and hospitalization duration.
Results: The intervention group achieved independent feeding significantly earlier than the control group (P=0.034). In addition, the duration of hospitalization was shorter in the intervention group, compared to that of the control group (P=0.027).
Conclusion: The utilization of PIOMI method to stimulate oral movements is beneficial in the early onset of oral feeding and reduces the duration of hospitalization. Therefore, this method can be effective in treating premature infants and reducing treatment costs.