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FEEDING DEVELOPMENT IN THE CONTEXT OF INFANT VOCALIZATIONS & CAREGIVER FEEDING RESPONSIVENESS

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posted on 2024-04-17, 20:38 authored by Rachel Hahn ArkenbergRachel Hahn Arkenberg, Georgia A Malandraki, Amanda Seidl, Katherine C. Hustad, Kameron Moding, Amy L. Delaney, Allison J. Schaser

The development of feeding skills is essential for infant health, growth, and family well-being. Despite the importance of this skill, relatively little is known about the development of independent solid feeding skills relative to other body systems – like vocalizations – or external factors including caregivers or the feeding environment. The purpose of this preliminary study was to examine the relationship between feeding skills, vocalizations, and caregiver feeding responsiveness at the same point in 6-8-month-old infants. We conducted this study remotely in order to obtain the most accurate assessment of infant skills and include diverse infant feeding experiences within their own home environments. Twenty-five typically developing – low-risk – infants and a pilot group of ten infants at increased risk for feeding and communication disorders completed the study, along with their caregivers. Infants were categorized as “at-risk” if they spent time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. We collected feeding data through caregiver-recorded videos of typical mealtimes, vocalization measures from daylong audio recordings, and responsiveness assessments from video-conferencing interviews with caregivers and the mealtime feeding videos. In our sample, it was feasible to use these remote data collection methods, and we obtained high inter- and intra-rater reliability for all measures (> 90%). In our preliminary study, we found that infants in the low- and at-risk groups demonstrated different oral motor feeding skills. In hierarchical regression models, the interaction between risk group and utterance duration was the most significant predictor of oral motor feeding skills, while neither vocalization measure was strongly related to eating efficiency. In the opposite direction, feeding skills were not predictive of either normalized child vocalization count or utterance duration. Relative to caregiver feeding responsiveness, we found that caregiver feeding responsivity alone did not predict feeding or vocalization measures. Responsivity in combination with weeks of feeding experience and medical risk group was related to oral motor feeding skill but not related to vocalization measures. Overall, this study provided initial evidence that feeding skills develop as a dynamic system, influenced by multiple within-child and external factors, and future research is warranted on the influence of these factors on feeding and communication skill development.

Funding

CAPCSD PhD Scholarship

Purdue Bilsland Fellowship

Purdue Center for Families Family Research Grant

NIH NIDCD T32

History

Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy

Department

  • Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Georgia A. Malandraki

Additional Committee Member 2

Amanda Seidl

Additional Committee Member 3

Katherine Hustad

Additional Committee Member 4

Kameron Moding

Additional Committee Member 5

Amy L. Delaney

Additional Committee Member 6

Allison Schaser

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