Previous studies demonstrated a short-term relationship between infant sleep-wake states and oral feeding performance, with state being an indication of infants’ neurobehavioral readiness for feeding. However, the relationship between sleep-wake states and feeding skills has not been evaluated longitudinally during hospitalization.
The purpose of this study was to examine preterm infants’ sleep-wake state developmental trajectories and their associations with feeding progression during hospitalization.
This descriptive and exploratory study was a secondary analysis using data from a longitudinal two-group, randomized controlled trial evaluating the effects of early and late cycled light on health and developmental outcomes among extremely preterm infants who were born ≤ 28 weeks of gestational age. Sleep-wake states were assessed for two 2-hour interfeeding periods per day (day and night hours), 30 weeks postmenstrual age (PMA), and every three weeks until discharge. Occurrences of active sleep, quiet sleep, and waking were recorded every 10 seconds. Feeding progression was assessed based on an infant’s PMA at five milestones: first enteral feeding, full enteral feeding, first oral feeding, half oral feeding, and full oral feeding. Trajectory analyses were used to describe developmental changes in sleep-wake states, feeding progression patterns, and associations between feeding progression and sleep-wake trajectories.
Active sleep decreased while waking and quiet sleep increased during hospitalization. Two distinct feeding groups were identified: typical and delayed feeding progression. In infants with delayed feeding progression, rates of active and quiet sleep development during the day were delayed compared to those with typical feeding progression. We also found that infants with delayed feeding progression were more likely to be awake more often during the night compared to infants with typical feeding progression.