Aim: To study cognitive outcome of premature, very low birth weight (VLBW) infants in relation to parental education and neonatal data.
Methods: A regional cohort of 182 VLBW infants born between 2001 and 2006 was followed up. Brain ultrasounds (US) were examined serially until term age and brain magnetic resonance imaging at term age. Neurological status was examined systematically. Cognitive development was assessed using the Mental Developmental Index (MDI) of Bayley Scales at 2 years of corrected age. A total of 192 healthy full-term (FT) controls were assessed with the MDI at 2 years of age.
Results: The mean MDI in VLBW infants was 101.7 (SD 15.4), which was lower compared with FT controls (109.8, SD 11.7, p < 0.001). In regression analysis of the demographic and medical data of VLBW infants, postnatal corticosteroids (p = 0.04), intestinal perforation (p = 0.03) and major brain pathology (p = 0.02) were negatively associated with the MDI. In VLBW infants, the prevalence of neurodevelopmental impairment was 9.9% (3.3% MDI below 70, 7.1% cerebral palsy, 2.2% hearing aid, no blind infants).
Conclusion: Cognitive development of VLBW infants seemed to have improved in comparison with earlier publications, but it differed from the FT controls. Neonatal factors affected cognitive development. Therefore, updated regional follow-up data are important for clinicians.