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Indian J Ophthalmol. 2019 Jun;67(6):811-815. doi: 10.4103/ijo.IJO_1639_18.

Comparison of retinopathy of prematurity incidence between Turkish citizens and Syrian refugees.

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Department of Ophthalmology, Faculty of Medicine, Gaziantep University, Gaziantep, Turkey.
Department of Ophthalmology, Gaziantep Children's Hospital, Gaziantep, Turkey.



More than 3.5 million Syrians came to Turkey seeking refuge and over 470,000 Syrian infants were born since the start of the civil war in 2011. Our aim is to compare the incidence of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) between Syrian refugees and Turkish citizens.


This multicenter, retrospective study was conducted in Gaziantep University, Faculty of Medicine and Gaziantep Children's Hospital in Turkey. We included the data of patients who were screened for ROP between July 2015 and June 2017.


The above-mentioned data of 906 Turkish infants and 199 Syrian infants were included in this study. Mean gestational ages (GAs) were (32.9 ± 2.7) and (32.1 ± 2.8) weeks as well as mean birth weights (BWs) were (1937.5 ± 582.9) and (1696.8 ± 485.5) g, in Turkish and Syrian infants, respectively. GA and BW were significantly lower in Syrian infants while time spent in neonatal intensive care unit was significantly higher. The zone of ROP was lower in the Syrian infants in the first examination and for the most advanced ROP (P = 0.001). Any stage ROP was present in 392 (43.3%) and 81 (40.7%) patients in Turkish and Syrian population, respectively (P = 0.490). The number of patients who required treatment for ROP were 95 (10.5%) and 20 (10.1%) in Turkish and Syrian groups, respectively (P = 0.882).


Our findings showed that refugee infants had lower BW and GA than native population but the incidence of ROP did not differ between them. Psychosocial stress is an important risk factor for women at reproductive age as it increases the incidence of prematurity. Additional care and psychological support must be given to refugees during perinatal period to decrease the risk of premature birth.


Incidence; Syrian war; refugees; retinopathy of prematurity; stress

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