Study of Fetal Swallowing

The safety and scientific validity of this study is the responsibility of the study sponsor and investigators. Listing a study does not mean it has been evaluated by the U.S. Federal Government. Read our disclaimer for details. Identifier: NCT00004566
Recruitment Status : Completed
First Posted : February 14, 2000
Last Update Posted : March 4, 2008
Information provided by:
National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC)

Brief Summary:

This study will establish a database of fetal movements associated with feeding. It will use information obtained from standard fetal ultrasound procedures to identify and measure the growth of the baby's face, lips, tongue, jaw, throat and airway. Fetal movements involved in breathing, sucking and swallowing will be recorded on videotape. This study may provide information that will:

increase knowledge about how swallowing develops in the fetus;

help explain why some babies have difficulty sucking and swallowing at birth; help predict what babies are at increased risk for feeding problems; and help design better ways to manage feeding difficulties in babies.

Pregnant women scheduled for ultrasound examination at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, or Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C., are eligible for this study. Mothers will fill out a questionnaire providing general medical and health information. For the ultrasound procedure, a transducer (a small, wand-like device) is moved across the belly to produce images of the fetus. When the baby is awake and swallowing, images of the mouth, throat and air passages will be recorded on videotape. The movements associated with feeding-breathing, sucking, yawning and swallowing-will then be measured to document how swallowing develops.

When the baby is born, researchers will review the medical chart for any findings relevant to this study. One to 2 weeks after delivery, the mother will be interviewed by telephone about the baby's feeding skills. Follow-up visits at 4 and 8 weeks after the birth will include observation of the baby's sucking and swallowing and an ultrasound examination, in which the transducer is held under the baby's chin during swallowing.

Babies who show signs of slow sucking or swallowing development will have a follow-up examination at ages 4 and 8 months. Follow-up visits at 4 and 8 months after the birth will include observation of the baby's sucking and swallowing and an ultrasound examination, in which the transducer is held under the baby's chin during swallowing.

Condition or disease
Deglutition Disorder High Risk Pregnancy

Detailed Description:

The normal term infant at birth is able to suck-swallow in a coordinated manner sufficient for nutritional intake and protection of the upper airway. The integrity of this post-natal behavior is dependent on intrauterine growth and function of the orofacial, pharyngeal and laryngeal structures of the upper aerodigestive system. The integrity of these structures not only ensures functional postnatal ingestive skills, but also contributes to the prenatal development of the gastrointestinal tract, regulation of amniotic fluid and composition, and recirculation of solutes. This developing system thus has importance in both fetal and neonatal well-being. However, few biometric or biophysical data exist detailing the normal patterns of growth and development of the aerodigestive structures in the human fetus. Further, factors that contribute to abnormal fetal and neonatal deglutitive responses are not fully known.

The purpose of this study is to establish the first anthropomorphic database on the development of aerodigestive structures in the fetus and, through sonographic biophysical profiles, examine the significance of fetal ingestive behaviors as predictors of postnatal feeding skills in at-risk infants. A detailed cross-sectional study of the development of the fetal upper aerodigestive tract and analysis of the progression of deglutitive skills over the course of gestation may lead to the early identification of factors contributing to neonatal swallowing dysfunction and other developmental delays. These data may provide insights into underlying intrauterine conditions associated with infant feeding difficulties. Resulting two- and three-dimensional ultrasonic data on the structural development of the upper aerodigestive system, coupled with biophysical data may be useful predictors of neonates at risk for nutritional and pulmonary sequelae. Further, sequential indices of normal swallowing-sucking skills may guide post-natal decisions for feeding "readiness" and advance the care of the premature, at-risk infant.

Study Type : Observational
Enrollment : 120 participants
Official Title: Pilot Study: Ultrasonic Evaluation of the Development of the Fetal Upper Aerodigestive Tract: Establishing Clinical Indicators of Deglutitive Function
Study Start Date : February 2000
Study Completion Date : May 2004

Information from the National Library of Medicine

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Ages Eligible for Study:   Child, Adult, Older Adult
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No


Only mothers with singleton or twin pregnancies will be included in the pilot study.

All parents will sign both the NIH and teh NNMC/Georgetown consent forms at the beginning of the study.

Information from the National Library of Medicine

To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contact information provided by the sponsor.

Please refer to this study by its identifier (NCT number): NCT00004566

United States, Maryland
Warren G. Magnuson Clinical Center (CC)
Bethesda, Maryland, United States, 20892
Sponsors and Collaborators
National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC)

Publications: Identifier: NCT00004566     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: 000081
First Posted: February 14, 2000    Key Record Dates
Last Update Posted: March 4, 2008
Last Verified: May 2004

Keywords provided by National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC):
3D Imaging
Fetal Development
High-Risk Pregnancy

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Deglutition Disorders
Esophageal Diseases
Gastrointestinal Diseases
Digestive System Diseases
Pharyngeal Diseases
Otorhinolaryngologic Diseases