Background: Most babies are born healthy and grow and develop normally through childhood. There are, however, clearly identifiable high-risk groups of survivors, such as those born preterm or with ill-health, who are destined to have higher than expected rates of health or developmental problems, and for whom more structured and specialised follow-up programs are warranted.
Discussion: This paper presents the results of a two-day workshop held in Melbourne, Australia, to discuss neonatal populations in need of more structured follow-up and why, in addition to how, such a follow-up programme might be structured. Issues discussed included the ages of follow-up, and the personnel and assessment tools that might be required. Challenges for translating results into both clinical practice and research were identified. Further issues covered included information sharing, best practice for families and research gaps.
Summary: A substantial minority of high-risk children has long-term medical, developmental and psychological adverse outcomes and will consume extensive health and education services as they grow older. Early intervention to prevent adverse outcomes and the effective integration of services once problems are identified may reduce the prevalence and severity of certain outcomes, and will contribute to an efficient and effective use of health resources. The shared long-term goal for families and professionals is to work toward ensuring that high risk children maximise their potential and become productive and valued members of society.