Use of non-invasive transcutaneous auricular vagus nerve stimulation: neurodevelopmental and sensory follow-up

Author: Turki Aljuhani1,2, Patricia Coker-Bolt3, Lakshmi Katikaneni4, Viswanathan Ramakrishnan5, Alyssa Brennan4, Mark S George6,7, Bashar W Badran6, Dorothea Jenkins4
1 Division of Health Science and Research, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, United States.
2 Department of Occupational Therapy, College of Applied Medical Sciences, King Saud Bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
3 Doctorate of Occupational Therapy Program, Hawai'i Pacific University, Honolulu, HI, United States.
4 Department of Pediatrics, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, United States.
5 Department of Public Health Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, United States.
6 Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, United States.
7 Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, Charleston, SC, Unites States.
Conference/Journal: Front Hum Neurosci
Date published: 2023 Nov 9
Other: Volume ID: 17 , Pages: 1297325 , Special Notes: doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2023.1297325. , Word Count: 219

To assess the impact of non-invasive transcutaneous auricular vagal nerve stimulation (taVNS) paired with oral feeding on long-term neurodevelopmental and sensory outcomes.

We tested 21 of 35 children who as infants were gastrostomy tube (G-tube) candidates and participated in the novel, open-label trial of taVNS paired with oral feeding. To evaluate possible effects on development at 18-months after infant taVNS, we performed the Bayley-III (n = 10) and Sensory Profile (SP-2, n = 12) assessments before the COVID pandemic, and Cognitive Adaptive Test (CAT), Clinical Linguistics and Auditory Milestone (CLAMS), Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ), and Peabody Developmental Motor Scales-2 gross motor tests as possible during and after the pandemic. We compared outcomes for infants who attained full oral feeds during taVNS ('responders') or received G-tubes ('non-responders').

At a mean of 19-months, taVNS 'responders' showed significantly better general sensory processing on the SP-2 than 'non-responders'. There were no differences in other test scores, which were similar to published outcomes for infants who required G-tubes.

This is the first report of neurodevelopmental follow-up in infants who received taVNS-paired feeding. They had similar developmental outcomes as historical control infants failing oral feeds who received G-tubes. Our data suggests that infants who attained full oral feeds had better sensory processing.

Keywords: feeding delay; infants; neurodevelopmental delay; sensory processing; taVNS.

PMID: 38021221 PMCID: PMC10666166 DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2023.1297325