Reflex modification procedures were used to test sensory processing in premature infants to examine the relationship between respiratory abnormalities and brainstem neuronal function. A total of 73 premature infants at risk for apnea and/or infants receiving methylxan-thine therapy was given a 12-h pneumocardiogram and reflex modification test at a comparable postconceptional age, before discharge. Reflex modification was tested using a controlled eyeblink-eliciting tap to the glabella presented either alone or with a 1 kHz 90-dB SPL tone. The amplitude of the glabellar tap eyeblinkand acoustically modified blink were lower in infants discharged on cardiac/apnea monitors (n = 36) than in the unmonitored group (1.44 and 1.59 volts versus 2.15 and 2.39 V, p< 0.005, respectively). At follow-up, 12 monitored infants had clinically significant apnea after discharge. The records of this subgroup of infants revealed a significantly lower augmentation of the glabellar eyeblink response when compared to ali infants screened for respiratory abnormalities and to the other monitored babies (p < 0.01). The data suggest that abnor-malities of the ventilatory pattern and occurrence of clinical apnea in preterm infants may in some measure be related to acoustic sensory processing, implying an alteration of brainstem neuronal function and organization.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health