Ultrasound measurements of abdominal muscle thickness are associated with postmenstrual age at full oral feedings in preterm infants: A preliminary study

Emily M Nagel, Marie Hickey, Levi M. Teigen, Adam Kuchnia, Holly Schifsky, Tara Holm, Carrie P Earthman, Ellen W Demerath, Sara E Ramel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: A premature infant's discharge from the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is dependent on factors such as respiratory stability, adequate growth, and the ability to consume oral feeds. Once infants have achieved respiratory stability, a tool that can better predict age at discharge is desirable. Thus, we conducted a secondary data analysis to assess the association between ultrasound measurements of abdominal muscle thickness and postmenstrual age (PMA) at full oral feedings. Methods: Forty-nine (n = 49) healthy, premature infants (mean gestational age = 32 weeks) were recruited from the NICU. Anthropometric measurements and ultrasound measurements of the rectus abdominis were conducted when infants were medically stable. Fat-free mass (FFM) was obtained using air displacement plethysmography. The relationship between ultrasound measurements of muscle thickness and PMA at full oral feedings was assessed using linear regression analysis. The relationship between FFM z-scores and PMA at full oral feedings was also assessed for comparison. Results: When adjusting for gestational age at birth, PMA at measurement, days of positive pressure respiratory support, weight, and length, ultrasound measurements of abdominal muscle thickness were independently, negatively associated with PMA at full oral feedings (β estimate: −0.71, P =.03). Conclusion: Preliminary results suggest infants with greater abdominal muscle thickness may reach full oral feedings at an earlier PMA (nearly 1 week per millimeter). Thus, ultrasound measurements of abdominal muscle thickness may be helpful in assessing readiness for discharge in healthy preterm infants. Further research is needed for development and validation of a prediction equation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalNutrition in Clinical Practice
Early online dateJun 8 2021
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 8 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by grant support from the Gerber Foundation and the Healthy Foods, Healthy Lives Institute. Emily M. Nagel was supported by National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant (T32DK083250). This content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIDDK or the National Institutes of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition

Keywords

  • muscle thickness
  • neonatal intensive care unit
  • premature infant
  • preterm infant
  • ultrasound

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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