Objectives: To compare the use of health and social services between children born before 33 weeks (very preterm), children born at 33 or 34 weeks (moderately preterm) and children born at 39 or 40 weeks (full term).
Population and methods: All very preterm children born in 1997 in nine French regions and a representative sample of the two other groups were followed up since birth. Data on the use of services between discharge from initial neonatal hospitalisation and the 9 months after birth were obtained by mail questionnaire filled in by parents.
Results: 38.2% of very preterm children, 24.3% of moderately preterm children and 10.3% of full term children were admitted to hospital at least once. Respiratory tract disorder was the main reason for rehospitalisation of very preterm children. The total number of visits, visits to specialists, and chest therapy were more frequent among very preterm children than among the two other groups.
Conclusion: Medical care of very preterm children is intensive after discharge from initial neonatal hospitalisation. Need of services are also substantial for moderately preterm children.