Objective: Our objective was to compare survival and neonatal morbidity rates between very low birth weight (VLBW) infants with Down syndrome (DS) and VLBW infants with non-DS chromosomal anomalies, nonchromosomal birth defects (BDs), and no chromosomal anomaly or major BD.
Methods: Data were collected prospectively for infants weighing 401 to 1500 g who were born and/or cared for at one of the study centers participating in the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Neonatal Research Network in 1994-2008. Risk of death and morbidities, including patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), late-onset sepsis (LOS), retinopathy of prematurity, and bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), were compared between VLBW infants with DS and infants in the other groups.
Results: Infants with DS were at increased risk of death (adjusted relative risk: 2.47 [95% confidence interval: 2.00-3.07]), PDA, NEC, LOS, and BPD, relative to infants with no BDs. Decreased risk of death (relative risk: 0.40 [95% confidence interval: 0.31-0.52]) and increased risks of NEC and LOS were observed when infants with DS were compared with infants with other non-DS chromosomal anomalies. Relative to infants with nonchromosomal BDs, infants with DS were at increased risk of PDA and NEC.
Conclusion: The increased risk of morbidities among VLBW infants with DS provides useful information for counseling parents and for anticipating the need for enhanced surveillance for prevention of these morbidities.