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Pediatrics. 2006 Nov;118(5):e1466-77.

Chronic conditions, functional limitations, and special health care needs in 10- to 12-year-old children born at 23 to 25 weeks' gestation in the 1990s: a Swedish national prospective follow-up study.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, University Hospital, SE-901 85 Umeå, Sweden.



Children born extremely immature (gestational age < 26 weeks' gestation) increasingly reach school age. Information on their overall functioning and special health care needs is necessary to plan for their medical and educational services. This study was undertaken to examine neurosensory, medical, and developmental conditions together with functional limitations and special health care needs of extremely immature children compared with control subjects born at term.


We studied 11-year-old children born before 26 completed weeks of gestation in all of Sweden from 1990 through 1992. All had been evaluated at 36 months' corrected age. Identification of children with chronic conditions lasting > or = 12 months was based on a questionnaire administered to parents. Neurosensory impairments were identified by reviewing health records. Information regarding other specific medical diagnoses and developmental disabilities was obtained by standard parent and teacher questionnaires.


Of 89 eligible children, 86 (97%) were studied at a mean age of 11 years. An equal number of children born at term served as controls. Logistic-regression analyses adjusting for social risk factors and gender showed that significantly more extremely immature children than controls had chronic conditions, including functional limitations (64% vs 11%, respectively), compensatory dependency needs (59% vs 25%), and services above those routinely required by children (67% vs 22%). Specific diagnoses or disabilities with higher rates in extremely immature children than in controls included neurosensory impairment (15% vs 2%), asthma (20% vs 6%), poor motor skills of > 2 SDs above the mean (26% vs 3%), poor visual perception of > 2 SDs above the mean (21% vs 4%), poor learning skills of > 2 SDs above the mean (27% vs 3%), poor adaptive functioning with T scores of < 40 (42% vs 9%), and poor academic performance with T score < 40 (49% vs 7%).


Children born extremely immature have significantly greater health problems and special health care needs at 11 years of age. However, few children have severe impairments that curtail major activities of daily living.

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