Early Hum Dev 2009 Jul 8;85(7):409-13. Epub 2009 Feb 8.
Department of Paediatric Neurology, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany.
Background: Most studies on clinical outcome of preterm born infants focus on high-risk infants, whereas little is known about the long-term prognosis of low-risk low birth weight preterm born infants (LBW).
Aims: To examine physical growth, school outcome, behavioural aspects, quality of life, and intervention impact on LBW in late adolescence compared to term born controls and to analyse developmental pathways from childhood to adolescence for these groups.
Study Design: In late adolescence 65 LBW and 41 matched term born controls were assessed with a structured telephone interview and standardized questionnaires with regard to physical growth, school career, therapeutic interventions, behavioural aspects, and quality of life. Longitudinal analysis comprised data from birth, infancy, school age, and adolescence.
Results: Growth in height of LBW was highly variable, but correlated significantly with birth parameters and was below those of controls with regard to percentiles. School enrollment of LBW was more often delayed, and there was a trend toward lower school graduation in LBW. The groups did not differ with regard to general or health-related quality of life and behavioural aspects, but LBW received significantly more therapeutical interventions.
Conclusions: In general, LBW showed no major deficits in late adolescence. However, a prolonged school career and a higher demand for therapeutic interventions indicate subtle neurodevelopmental deficits in LBW. This underscores the need for professional follow-up programmes for this majority of preterm born infants.