Houston Area Pediatric Specialists

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Preemies Aren't Little Term Babies

Disorders of feeding and swallowing, and the risk of aspiration are increased in premie infants.  This study highlights that a routine surgery performed for a common pediatric disorder known as as laryngomalacia (floppy airway) may significantly raise risk for aspiration more so than in term infants. Dr. Susarla

The effects of prematurity on incidence of aspiration following supraglottoplasty for laryngomalacia.



To determine if patients who were born premature have a higher incidence of aspiration following supraglottoplasty compared to patients born full term.


Retrospective study.


Two thousand three hundred sixty (2360) patient charts from Riley Hospital for Children were reviewed retrospectively. Patients had already been treated for laryngomalacia with supraglottoplasty by Dr. Bruce Matt. Estimated weeks gestational age at birth was recorded for each patient. Prematurity was stratified as mild (32-36 weeks gestational age [WGA]), very (28-31 WGA), or extremely (<28 WGA). Patients were excluded from the study if they had suspected aspiration with chronic cough, pneumonia, chronic lung disease, or documented aspiration prior to supraglottoplasty.


As previously shown, 75 patients (3.2%) had aspiration following supraglottoplasty. Twenty of these patients were preterm infants at birth. The rate for aspiration following supraglottoplasty for former premature infants was statistically significant (5.9%, odds ratio = 2.3, P = .0032).


Children who were born premature have a higher rate of postoperative aspiration following supraglottoplasty; however, supraglottoplasty should still be considered as treatment for laryngomalacia as the rate is still relatively low (5.9%).

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