OBJECTIVE: To identify a body-positioning regimen that promotes gastric emptying (GE) and reduces gastroesophageal reflux (GER) by changing body position 1 hour after feeding.
STUDY DESIGN: Ten healthy preterm infants (7 male; mean postmenstrual age, 36 weeks [range, 33 to 38 weeks]) were monitored with combined esophageal impedance-manometry. Infants were positioned in the left lateral position (LLP) or right lateral position (RLP) and then gavage-fed. After 1 hour, the position was changed to the opposite side. Subsequently, all infants were restudied with the order of positioning reversed.
RESULTS: There was more liquid GER in the RLP than in the LLP (median, 9.5 [range, 6.0 to 22.0] vs 2.0 [range, 0.0 to 5.0] episodes/hour; P = .002). In the RLP-first protocol, the number of liquid GER episodes per hour decreased significantly after position change (first postprandial hour [RLP], 5.5 [2.0 to 13.0] vs second postprandial hour [LLP], 0.0 [0.0 to 1.0]; P = .002). GE was faster in the RLP-first protocol than in the LLP-first protocol (37.0 +/- 21.1 vs 61.2 +/- 24.8 minutes; P = .006).
CONCLUSIONS: A strategy of right lateral positioning for the first postprandial hour with a position change to the left thereafter promotes GE and reduces liquid GER in the late postprandial period and may prove to be a simple therapeutic approach for infants with GER disease.