Movements of the hyoid and thyroid are critical for feeding. These structures are often assumed to move in synchrony, despite evidence that neurologically compromised populations exhibit altered kinematics. Preterm infants are widely considered to be a neurologically compromised population and often experience feeding difficulties, yet measuring performance, and how performance matures in pediatric populations is challenging. Feeding problems are often compounded by complications arising from surgical procedures performed to ensure the survival of preterm infants, such as damage to the recurrent laryngeal nerve (RLN) during patent ductus arteriosus correction surgery. Here, we used a validated infant pig model for infant feeding to test how preterm birth, postnatal maturation, and RLN lesion interact to impact hyoid and thyroid excursion and their coordination. We filmed infant pigs when feeding using videofluorscopy at seven days old (1–2 months human equivalent) and 17 days old (6–9 months human equivalent) and tracked movements of the hyoid and thyroid on both days. We found that preterm birth impacted the coordination between hyoid and thyroid movements, but not their actual excursion. In contrast, excursion of the two structures increased with postnatal age in term and preterm pigs. RLN lesion decreased thyroid excursion, and primarily impacted hyoid movements by increasing variation in hyoid excursion. This work demonstrates that RLN lesion and preterm birth have distinct, but pervasive effects on feeding performance in infants, and suggest that interventions targeted towards reducing dysphagia should be prescribed based off the etiology driving dysphagia, rather than the prognosis of dysphagia.
PubMed: MeSH publication types
- Journal Article