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Baillieres Clin Obstet Gynaecol. 1993 Sep;7(3):633-51.

Long-term outcome of infants born preterm.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia.


This chapter outlines some of the many long-term health problems to be expected in surviving preterm children. They have higher rates of sensorineural impairments (such as cerebral palsy, and visual, auditory and intellectual impairments) and sensorineural disabilities from these impairments, than children born at term. In addition, they grow poorly and have higher rates of other health problems, including poorer respiratory health in early childhood. There is little doubt that preterm children contribute disproportionately to the prevalence of health problems in childhood. However, there are still many gaps in our knowledge of the outcome for preterm survivors, particularly regarding outcome in adulthood. Obstetricians and neonatologists working in intensive care, as well as parents, want to know the long-term outcome for preterm children born today, not that of children born a generation ago when fewer preterm children (particularly those of extremely low birthweight) survived. Despite the many problems, the conclusion is that most preterm children are as healthy as term children, suffering only usual childhood illnesses; we feel confident that the majority make, and will continue to make, useful contributions to their families and the societies in which they live.

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