Children born preterm have considerable rates of severe/moderate neurodevelopmental disabilities at age 5 years, according to a study published online April 28 in The BMJ.
Véronique Pierrat, M.D., Ph.D., from the University of Paris, and colleagues conducted a population-based cohort study in France in 2011 involving 4,441 children aged 5.5 years born at 24 to 26, 27 to 31, and 32 to 34 weeks of gestation. Severe/moderate and mild neurodevelopmental disabilities were examined.
Of the participants, 3,083 children (69.4 percent) were assessed. The researchers found that the rates of severe/moderate neurodevelopmental disabilities were 28, 19, and 12 percent for those born at 24 to 26, 27 to 31, and 32 to 34 weeks, respectively, while the corresponding rates of mild disabilities were 38.5, 36, and 34 percent. Of children born at 24 to 26, 27 to 31, and 32 to 34 weeks, assistance at school was used by 27, 14, and 7 percent, respectively. Fifty-two percent of children born at 24 to 26 weeks received at least one developmental intervention compared with 26 percent of those born at 32 to 34 weeks. The concern reported most commonly by parents was behavior. There was an increase in rates of neurodevelopmental disabilities as gestational age decreased, and these were higher among families with low socioeconomic status.
"This global perspective is important when advising parents, health personnel, and teachers, and also when designing follow-up and intervention programs for children born preterm," the authors write.