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Obstet Gynecol. 2007 Oct;110(4):855-64.

Outcome at 3 years of age in a population-based cohort of extremely preterm infants.

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Research Group Developmental Disabilities, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.



To assess health and neurodevelopmental outcome at 3 years of age in neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)-surviving children who were born at 26 or fewer weeks of gestation in a geographically defined region of Belgium from 1999 through 2000.


The study included a clinical examination and a standardized neurologic and developmental assessment. Disabilities were defined by international criteria. In 97% (92 of 95) of the children, accurate information on the presence of overall disability could be collected.


Thirty-six percent (95% confidence interval [CI] 25-47%) of the formally assessed children (28 of 77) had deficient neuromotor development, with 5% of them showing severe sensory-communicative impairment. Mean (+/-standard deviation) scores on the Mental Developmental Index and Psychomotor Developmental Index were 81.2 (18.8) and 73.2 (17.8), respectively. Seventy percent (95% CI 60-80%) had a mental (Mental Developmental Index) or psychomotor (Psychomotor Developmental Index) impairment or both, assessed to be more than 1 standard deviation below the population mean. Mental and psychomotor outcome did not differ significantly when compared according to either gestational age, gender, or multiple birth (all P>.05). When either minor central dysfunction or cerebral palsy was not taken into account, normal mental development was recorded in 62% of the subjects. The cumulative of poor outcome (ie, disability- or prematurity-related death) among the 95 infants discharged alive was estimated to be 58% (95% CI 48-68%), representing 25 (26%) mildly-to-moderately disabled and 28 (29%) severely disabled toddlers, including two infants whose postdischarge deaths were directly related to prematurity.


The average developmental outcome is poor in children born as extremely preterm infants. Finding early predictors of adverse outcome is a major challenge.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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