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Key points

  • Babies born prematurely are at risk of feeding and communication difficulties in the neonatal period as well as in the longer term
  • The number of babies admitted to a neonatal unit has seen an increasing trend due to advances in health care expertise and technology

What is neonatal care?

Babies born prematurely are at risk of feeding and early communication difficulties. This is due to being born early or having complex medical conditions that affect their neurology and functioning of the oral and pharyngeal structures required for sucking and swallowing.

Role of speech and language therapy for neonatal care

The speech and language therapist has a role in identifying babies at risk of feeding difficulties and in helping babies and their families to establish safe and positive oral feeding. The speech and language therapist has a role on the Neonatal Unit in supporting developmental care as part of the wider team to support optimal neurodevelopment of babies on the unit.

This topic area is currently under review by RCSLT experts.

Resources

Giving Voice - Paediatric Eating & Swallowing