Aim: The aim of this study was to assess the independent role of cerebral lesions on ultrasound scan, and several other neonatal and obstetric factors, as potential predictors of cerebral palsy (CP) in a large population-based cohort of very preterm infants.
Method: As part of EPIPAGE, a population-based prospective cohort study, perinatal data and outcome at 5 years of age were recorded for 1812 infants born before 33 weeks of gestation in nine regions of France in 1997.
Results: The study group comprised 942 males (52%) and 870 females with a mean gestational age of 30 weeks (SD 2 wks; range 24-32 wks) and a mean birthweight of 1367 g (SD 393 g; range 450-2645 g). CP was diagnosed at 5 years of age in 159 infants (prevalence 9%; 95% confidence interval [CI] 7-10%), 97 males and 62 females, with a mean gestational age of 29 weeks (SD 2 wks; range 24-32 wks) and a mean birthweight of 1305 g (SD 386 g; range 500-2480 g). Among this group, 67% walked without aid, 14% walked with aid, and 19% were unable to walk. Spastic, ataxic, and dyskinetic CP accounted for 89%, 7%, and 4% of cases respectively. The prevalence of CP was 61% among infants with cystic periventricular leukomalacia, 50% in infants with intraparenchymal haemorrhage, 8% in infants with grade I intraventricular haemorrhage, and 4% in infants without a detectable cerebral lesion. After controlling for cerebral lesions and obstetric and neonatal factors, only male sex (odds ratio [OR] 1.52; 95% CI 1.03-2.25) and preterm premature rupture of membranes or preterm labour (OR 1.72; 95% CI 0.95-3.14) were predictors of the development of CP in very preterm infants.
Interpretation: Cerebral lesions were the most important predictor of CP in very preterm infants. In addition, infant sex and preterm premature rupture of membranes or preterm labour were also independent predictors of CP.