Quality of life at age 18 years after extremely preterm birth in the post-surfactant era

J Pediatr. 2013 Oct;163(4):1008-13.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2013.05.048. Epub 2013 Jul 23.


Objectives: To assess the self-reported quality of life, health status, self-esteem, and functional outcomes at age 18 years of extremely preterm (EP; <28 weeks gestation) or extremely low birth weight (ELBW; birth weight <1000 g) adolescents born in 1991-1992 compared with normal birth weight (birth weight >2499 g) controls, and, within the EP/ELBW cohort, to assess whether these outcomes are related to gestational age or birth weight.

Study design: Self-reported measures of quality of life, health status, self-esteem, and functional outcomes were obtained at age 18 years from a geographic cohort of all survivors born EP/ELBW in 1991-1992 in the state of Victoria, Australia, along with matched normal birth weight controls.

Results: Data were available from 194 EP/ELBW and 148 control adolescents. EP/ELBW adolescents reported similar overall quality of life, health status, and self-esteem as controls (P > .05). Birth at younger gestational age or lower birth weight were not related to poorer quality of life within the EP/ELBW cohort (P > .05). EP/ELBW adolescents reported less physical activity (OR, 0.5; 95% CI, 0.3-0.8; P < .01), sexual activity (OR, 0.6; 95% CI, 0.4-0.9; P = .01), and alcohol intake (OR, 0.5; 95% CI, 0.3-0.8; P = .01) compared with controls. Other aspects of risk-taking behavior were similar in the 2 groups (P > .05).

Conclusion: EP/ELBW individuals born after the introduction of exogenous surfactant are transitioning well into young adulthood, despite the fact that more of the tiniest and most immature infants survive than ever before. They report similar quality of life, self-esteem, and social and risk-taking behaviors as controls.

Keywords: ELBW; EP; Extremely low birth weight; Extremely preterm; HUI3; Health Utilities Index Mark 3; NBW; Normal birth weight; SF36; Short Form 36; VLBW; Very low birth weight.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Birth Weight
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Infant, Extremely Low Birth Weight*
  • Infant, Premature*
  • Male
  • Pulmonary Surfactants / therapeutic use*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Risk-Taking
  • Self Concept
  • Victoria


  • Pulmonary Surfactants