(HealthDay News) – Late preterm infants (LPIs), born at 34–36 weeks of gestation, who receive intensive care, have similar cognitive, motor, and language skills at age 3 as LPIs who did not receive intensive care, according to a study published online Oct 1 in Pediatrics.

To examine the impact of neonatal intensive or high-dependency care (IC) on developmental outcomes at 3 years of age, Jennifer E. McGowan, PhD, RN, from Queen’s University Belfast in the United Kingdom, and colleagues conducted a cohort study involving 225 children born late preterm in Northern Ireland during 2006.

The researchers found that LPI infants who received IC were more often less mature (34 weeks of gestation) than LPI infants who did not receive IC (control group) and had lower birth weight (≤2,500g) and Apgar scores (<7 at five minutes). LPIs who received IC were more likely than controls to have received resuscitation at birth and to have been born by cesarean delivery. Compared with children in the control group, those born late preterm who received IC had similar cognitive, motor, and language skills at 3 years of age. There was no significant difference in measurements of growth between the groups.

“Despite having increased maternal, perinatal, and neonatal risk factors, there were no significant differences in early childhood development between LPIs who received IC and those who did not,” the authors write. “LPIs do not receive routine follow-up after IC and this study provides useful and reassuring data for parents and clinicians on the longer-term outcome of this infant group.”

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