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J Perinat Med. 1987;15(1):61-72.

Low risk vaginally born preterm infants: a four year psychological and neurodevelopmental follow-up study.


A prospective follow-up study of 39 vaginally born low risk preterm (less than 37 weeks of gestation) and ten term control infants was carried out to estimate psychological and neurodevelopmental outcome at four years of age in relation to conceptual age and fetal acidosis at birth. The patients were divided into two groups: infants born after 29-33 weeks gestation (Group I) and those born after 34-36 weeks gestation (Group II), with or without fetal acidosis, i.e. a fetal scalp pH below or above 7.20. Acidotic infants normalized within the first hour after birth. Marked low and high performance groups for intellectual performance and hearing and vision tests were discernable within the first two years. The language performance of preterm infants was delayed compared to infants born at term, especially in Group II infants. At four years of age, a higher number of Group II infants had psychomotor developmental problems; whereas, neurological handicaps were more frequent in Group I infants with fetal acidosis. This indicates that re-evaluation of neurodevelopmental outcome is needed at a later age, e.g. six years of age, in preterm infants after low risk deliveries.

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