(HealthDay News) – About three-quarters of infants born extremely prematurely who receive active care have mild or no neurodevelopmental disability at 2.5 years of age, according to a study published in the May 1 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, a theme issue on child health.

Fredrik Serenius, MD, PhD, from Uppsala University in Sweden, and colleagues compared neurodevelopmental outcomes for 491 live-born infants, born before 27 weeks of gestation between 2004–2007 in Sweden who survived to 2.5 years of age, and matched singleton control infants.

The researchers found that, as assessed by Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development, extremely preterm children had significantly lower scores for cognition, language, and motor development. A significantly greater proportion of extremely preterm children had moderate or severe cognitive disability, moderate or severe language disability, cerebral palsy, blindness, and moderate or severe hearing impairment. Of all extremely preterm children, 42% had no disability, 31% had mild disability, 16% had moderate disability, and 11% had severe disability. Moderate or severe overall disability decreased from 60% of infants born at 22 weeks of gestation to 17% of infants born at 26 weeks of gestation.

“Of children born extremely preterm and receiving active perinatal care, 73% had mild or no disability and neurodevelopmental outcome improved with each week of gestational age,” Serenius and colleagues conclude. “These results are relevant for clinicians counseling families facing extremely preterm birth.”

Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)