Prone and left lateral positioning reduce gastro-oesophageal reflux in preterm infants

A K Ewer, M E James, J M Tobin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Citations (Scopus)


AIM: To examine the effect of body position on clinically significant gastro-oesophageal reflux (GOR) in preterm infants.

METHODS: Eighteen preterm infants with clinically significant GOR were studied prospectively using 24 hour lower oesophageal pH monitoring. Infants were nursed in three positions (prone, left, and right lateral) for 8 hours in each position, with the order randomly assigned. Data were analysed using analysis of covariance.

RESULTS: The median (range) reflux index (RI) for the group was 13.8% (5.8-40. 4). There was no significant difference in the mean time spent in each position. RI (mean % (SEM)) was significantly less in prone (6. 3 (1.7)) and left lateral positions (11.0 (2.2)), when compared with the right lateral position (29.4 (3.2)); p<0.001. The mean (SEM) longest episodes (mins) of GOR were reduced by prone and left positions (8.6 (2.2) and 10.0 (2.4), respectively) compared with the right position (26.0 (3.9)); p<0.001. The mean (SE) number of episodes was reduced by prone (15.4 (2.8)) and left (24.6 (3.5)) positions when compared with right (41.6 (4.6)) (p<0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: Prone and left lateral positions significantly reduce the severity of GOR, by reducing the number of episodes and the duration of the longest episodes. Such positioning offers a useful adjunct to the treatment in hospital of preterm infants with gastro-oesophageal reflux.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)F201-5
JournalArchives of disease in childhood. Fetal and neonatal edition
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1999


  • Analysis of Variance
  • Female
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Male
  • Posture
  • Prone Position
  • Prospective Studies


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