Objective: Advances in perinatal care have resulted in a sharply increasing survival rate among very preterm infants. However, there is some concern about the later neurodevelopmental outcome of those infants who survive. In this paper, we review the prevalence estimates of motor (cerebral palsy), sensorineural and cognitive impairments and their recent time-trends in very preterm infants.
Method: A review of studies describing neurodevelopmental outcome of very preterm infants in Europe, Australia and America North.
Results: The gestational age-specific prevalences of cerebral palsy (CP) were 72-86 for extremely preterm children (<28 weeks), 32-60 for very preterm (28-31 weeks) and 5-6 for moderate preterm (32-36 weeks), and 1.3-1.5 for term children per 1000. The live birth prevalence for CP remained unchanged in extremely and very preterm infants since 1990. The prevalence estimates of moderate and severe cognitive impairments are 15 to 25% in very preterm children. Less than 4% of very preterm infants develop severe hearing or visual loss.
Conclusion: This review indicates that very preterm infants have high risk of disability. Most studies have been conducted between 1985 and 1995. Thus, these results should be interpreted with caution before generalisation to recent cohorts.