The physiologic coupling of sucking and swallowing coordination provides a unique process for neonatal survival

Katlyn E. McGrattan, Maneesha Sivalingam, Kathryn A. Hasenstab, Lai Wei, Sudarshan R. Jadcherla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Aim Although the coordination of sucking and swallowing is critical for successful oral intake in neonates, the mechanisms that facilitate this coordination are not well understood. This investigation sought to clarify the mechanisms that facilitate this coordination, by comparing sucks that were coordinated with swallows and sucks that were completed in isolation. Methods Ten neonates with a median gestational age of 28.2 weeks, ranging from 27.0 to 35.0 weeks, were recruited from the neonatal nurseries at Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, Ohio, USA. They were evaluated while bottle-feeding at term gestation for differences in characteristics between sucks that were coupled and not coupled with swallows. Suction was evaluated using an intra-oral pressure transducer, and swallows were identified using a micromanometry pharyngeal catheter. Linear mixed models were applied to distinguish sucking characteristics. Results Suction exhibited an antiphase relationship with the generation and release of positive pharyngeal pressure during the swallow. Coupled sucks had lower suction generation and release rates (p < 0.0001), lower suction amplitude (p = 0.004), longer suction duration (p < 0.0001) and higher milk ejection pressure (p < 0.0001). Conclusion The coordination of unique sucking and swallowing movement patterns may be achieved by the infant adapting sucking kinematics around the lingual patterns that facilitate the pharyngeal swallow.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)790-797
Number of pages8
JournalActa Paediatrica, International Journal of Paediatrics
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Foundation Acta Pædiatrica. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • Feeding
  • Infant
  • Suck-Swallow Ratio
  • Sucking
  • Swallowing


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