Infantile cataract in the collaborative perinatal project: prevalence and risk factors

Arch Ophthalmol. 2002 Nov;120(11):1559-65. doi: 10.1001/archopht.120.11.1559.


Objectives: To estimate the prevalence of 4 categories of infantile cataract in subjects surviving the neonatal period in a US cohort, and to investigate risk factors for isolated infantile cataract.

Design: Prospective study of 55 908 pregnancies enrolled in the Collaborative Perinatal Project from 1959 to 1965 at 12 university medical centers.

Methods: We gathered data on demographic, lifestyle, and prenatal and perinatal obstetrical and postnatal factors using a standardized protocol. Pediatricians and neurologists examined infants at birth, 4 months, 1 year, and 7 years. We used exact logistic regression methods to compare putative risk factors in infants with isolated cataract with those in infants with no history of cataract.

Outcome measures: Infantile cataract as diagnosed using a standardized dilated ophthalmic examination.

Results: Infantile cataract occurred in 13.6 per 10 000 infants (95% confidence interval [CI], 10.7-17.1). Isolated infantile cataract occurred 3.8 times as often among infants born at weights at or below 2500 g than among those born at or above 2500 g (95% CI, 1.5-8.6; P<.001), after controlling for a set of covariates; we observed similar results for bilateral isolated cataract (odds ratio = 4.4; 95% CI, 1.2-13.9). No risk factor identified in bivariate analyses was independently associated with the odds of developing isolated unilateral infantile cataract.

Conclusions: Infantile cataract is a rare disorder occurring during childhood. Prevalence estimates reported here are within the limits of those from large-cohort studies in economically developed nations. Infants born at weights at or below 2500 g have a 3- to 4-fold increased odds of developing infantile cataract.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Birth Weight
  • Cataract / congenital*
  • Cataract / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pregnancy
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology