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International Journal of Pediatrics
Volume 2012, Article ID 195153, 7 pages
Research Article

Insights into Neonatal Oral Feeding through the Salivary Transcriptome

Division of Newborn Medicine, Mother Infant Research Institute at Tufts Medical Center, Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center, 800 Washington Street, P.O. Box 394, Boston, MA 02111, USA

Received 2 April 2012; Accepted 21 May 2012

Academic Editor: Chantal Lau

Copyright © 2012 Jill L. Maron. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. The development of safe and effective oral feeding skills in the newborn is complex and may be associated with significant morbidities. Our understanding of neonatal oral feeding maturation at the molecular level is limited, providing an opportunity to utilize emerging molecular techniques to accurately assess neonatal oral feeding skills. Objective. To identify key regulatory genes in neonatal saliva involved in successful oral feeding. Methods. Previously, our laboratory identified 9,286 genes in saliva that statistically significantly altered their gene expression as premature newborns gained advanced oral feeding skills. In this report, genes previously identified underwent an updated and targeted pathway analysis with Ingenuity Pathway Analysis (IPA) to identify potential candidate genes involved in successful oral feeding. Genes were considered if they were in the five most significantly up- and down-regulated physiological pathways and were associated with the keywords “feeding”, “digestion” and “development”. Results. There were 2,186 genes that met criteria. Pathways associated with feeding behavior, cranial nerve development, and the development of the nervous, skeletal, and muscular systems were highlighted. Discussion. These data provide important insights into the biological processes involved in oral feeding in the newborn at a molecular level and identify novel pathways associated with successful oral feeding.