Very Preterm Birth Tied to Cognitive Deficits at Age 5

March 7, 2008

Among children born prior to 33 weeks' gestation, those born most prematurely are at highest risk of neurodevelopmental impairments at age 5, according to an article published in the March 8 issue of The Lancet.

FRIDAY, March 7 (HealthDay News) -- Among children born prior to 33 weeks' gestation, those born most prematurely are at highest risk of neurodevelopmental impairments at age 5, according to an article published in the March 8 issue of The Lancet.

Beatrice Larroque, M.D., of Universite Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris, France, and colleagues studied a cohort of 2,901 French children born prior to 33 weeks' gestation and a control group of 667 children born between 39 and 40 weeks' gestation in order to investigate neurodevelopmental outcomes after very preterm birth. Level of disability at age 5 was graded based on the presence and severity of cerebral palsy, presence of visual or hearing deficiency, and scores on the mental processing composite of the Kaufman assessment battery for children.

At 5 years of age, 5 percent of those in the very preterm group had severe disability, 9 percent had moderate disability and 25 percent had minor disability. The prevalence of disability was higher in children born at 24-28 weeks (49 percent) compared to those born at 29 to 32 weeks (36 percent). In addition, specialized health care resources were utilized by 42 percent of children born at 24 to 28 weeks and 31 percent of those born at 29 to 32 weeks, compared to only 16 percent of controls.

"Our study has shown that despite improvements in treatment and survival, very preterm birth is associated with neurodevelopmental deficiencies at 5 years of age," the authors conclude.

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