The effect of body position on gastric emptying was investigated in 48 neonates. The rate of gastric emptying is the same for healthy term, preterm, and small-for-dates infants. Infants with respiratory distress syndrome have delayed gastric emptying and a high incidence of abdominal distension and pooling of feeds in the stomach in the supine position. The stomach empties more rapidly in the prone and right lateral positions than in the supine and left lateral positions. These findings indicate that the prone or right lateral positions are to be preferred for nursing neonates, especially those in whom intolerance to the volume of feeds is likely to be a problem. Supine or left lateral positions have little merit in helping gastric emptying and should not be used routinely in hospital nurseries.
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