Background: Morbidity and mortality in Very Low Birth Weight (VLBW) infants during their hospital stay have been well described. However, there are insufficient data regarding health problems after discharge.
Study design: In a multicenter study performed between January 2009 and December 2010 including 2493 VLBW infants, questionnaires were sent out to all participating parents in the first year of life. We compared the parental reported health of VLBW infants with a national cohort (KIGGS).
Results: The reported health of VLBW infants born after 29 weeks of gestation was identical to term infants. Even in the group of infants born before 24 weeks of gestation health was regarded as very good or good in >70% of cases. However, parents described a delayed development in >50% increasing to >70% with lower gestational age. In the first year of life VLBW infants have an increased risk of visual and hearing problems. Bronchitis was more frequent in VLBW infants but there were no differences in other infections typical for that age group. VLBW infants had less sleeping problems. No gender differences were described.
Conclusion: VLBW infants in our study require slightly more medical care compared to their peers. However, medical problems are relatively small compared to the developmental needs as perceived by their parents. Therefore, close follow-up and advice by specialists in infant development are needed.
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