Quality of life of adults born very preterm or very low birth weight: A systematic review

Acta Paediatr. 2020 Oct;109(10):1974-1988. doi: 10.1111/apa.15249. Epub 2020 Mar 26.


Aim: To establish differences in health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in adults born term and those born very preterm (VPT) and/or with a very low birth weight (VLBW).

Methods: Our systematic review is preregistered under PROSPERO-ID CRD42018084005. Studies were eligible for inclusion if their authors had stated the HRQoL of adults (18 years or older) born VPT (<32 weeks of gestation) or VLBW (<1500 g of birth weight) had been measured, if written in English, and if they reported a comparison with a control group or valid norms. We searched Pubmed, Scopus, Psycinfo, Web of Science, Embase and contacted experts in this field. Non-response and other bias-related problems were evaluated.

Results: We included 18 studies of 15 unique cohorts from 11 countries. In 11 studies, no differences in HRQoL between VPT or VLBW and term-born adults were found; four studies found lower HRQoL in VPT/VLB adults; and evidence from three studies was inconclusive. Disability, sex and age were associated with HRQoL.

Conclusion: There is no conclusive evidence that HRQoL differs between term-born adults and those born VPT or with a VLBW. The comparability of studies was restricted by differences between HRQoL measurements, age ranges at assessment and definition of disability.

Keywords: health-related quality of life; very low birth weight adults; very preterm adults.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Extremely Premature*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Very Low Birth Weight
  • Parturition
  • Pregnancy
  • Quality of Life*