No change in neurodevelopment at 11 years after extremely preterm birth

Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed. 2021 Jan 27;fetalneonatal-2020-320650. doi: 10.1136/archdischild-2020-320650. Online ahead of print.


Objective: To determine whether improvements in school age outcomes had occurred between two cohorts of births at 22-25 weeks of gestation to women residents in England in 1995 and 2006.

Design: Longitudinal national cohort studies.

Setting: School-based or home-based assessments at 11 years of age.

Participants: EPICure2 cohort of births at 22-26 weeks of gestation in England during 2006: a sample of 200 of 1031 survivors were evaluated; outcomes for 112 children born at 22-25 weeks of gestation were compared with those of 176 born in England during 1995 from the EPICure cohort. Classroom controls for each group acted as a reference population.

Main outcome measures: Standardised measures of cognition and academic attainment were combined with parent report of other impairments to estimate overall neurodevelopmental status.

Results: At 11 years in EPICure2, 18% had severe and 20% moderate impairments. Comparing births at 22-25 weeks in EPICure2 (n=112), 26% had severe and 21% moderate impairment compared with 18% and 32%, respectively, in EPICure. After adjustment, the OR of moderate or severe neurodevelopmental impairment in 2006 compared with 1995 was 0.76 (95% CI 0.45 to 1.31, p=0.32). IQ scores were similar in 1995 (mean 82.7, SD 18.4) and 2006 (81.4, SD 19.2), adjusted difference in mean z-scores 0.2 SD (95% CI -0.2 to 0.6), as were attainment test scores. The use of multiple imputation did not alter these findings.

Conclusion: Improvements in care and survival between 1995 and 2006 are not paralleled by improved cognitive or educational outcomes or a reduced rate of neurodevelopmental impairment.

Keywords: epidemiology; neonatology; neurology; psychology.