Practice Patterns for the Evaluation and Treatment of Feeding and Swallowing Disorders for Neonates in the NICU



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Research in pediatric dysphagia is limited, thus expert opinion forms the foundation for the majority of clinical practice. This study surveyed expert speech-language pathologists (SLPs) in pediatric dysphagia and practicing SLPs working in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) to identify practice patterns for the evaluation and treatment of infant dysphagia. A 35-item internet survey which included questions concerning two case scenarios was available to members of Division 13, Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders as well as to SLPs through direct email request. Thirty-three individuals completed the survey (4 experts, 29 practicing SLPs). The results revealed varied practice patterns within and between groups in the clinical swallowing evaluation, referral for instrumental swallowing evaluations, and treatment approaches for feeding and swallowing disorders. The findings from this study suggest the necessity for evidence-based practice and standard guidelines in the evaluation and treatment for infants with feeding and swallowing disorders in the NICU.



Practice patterns, Neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), Feeding disorders, Swallowing disorders, Pediatric dysphagia, Feeding evaluation, Feeding treatment, Swallowing evaluation, Swallowing treatment, Dysphagia, Evaluation, Treatments