Early discharge of preterm very low birth weight (VLBW) infants is at times inevitable in low resource settings. The implication of such practice on the growth of this high-risk population is not known. We conducted a retrospective chart review to describe the growth of preterm VLBW infants discharged with a weight of less than 1500 g.
Objectives: To describe the growth of discharged preterm VLBW infants over the first 12 weeks.
Method: Between June 2013 and January 2014; 164 discharged preterm VLBW infants were followed up for 3 months. Among the survivors (132), we identified 111 infant records for this study. Relevant data was entered in STATA for analysis. Growth percentiles were determined at approximately 4 weeks, 8 weeks, and 12 weeks post-discharge using the intergrowth 21st growth charts. Growth velocities were computed using the 2-point average weight model. Regression analysis was used to identify factors associated with growth failure. Growth failure was defined as occipital frontal circumference (OFC), weight, and length < 10th centile by 12 weeks post-discharge. P-value of < 0.05 was considered significant at a 95% confidence interval.
Results: Among the study infants the median gestational age and weight at birth were 32 weeks (range 28-35 weeks) and 1250 g(range 850-1500 g) respectively; 60/111(54%) were Small for Gestational Age (SGA). The median discharge postmenstrual age (PMA) was 34 weeks (range 30-38 weeks) and weight was 1140 g (range 830-1490 g). The majority 88.2% had not recovered birth weight at discharge of whom 59.1% recovered by 2 weeks and 40.9% recovered between 2 and 4 weeks after discharge. By 12 weeks post-discharge the median PMA and weight were 46 weeks (range 37-51 weeks),and 3110 g (range 1750-5000 g) respectively, 38.7% of the infants had growth failure and 36.9% had OFC <3rd centile. Growth velocity < 15 g/kg/d in the first 4 weeks (OR 3.8, p 0.010) and subsequent 4 weeks (OR 2.5, p 0.049) post-discharge were independently associated with growth failure.
Conclusion: Slow birth weight recovery was observed and growth failure was prevalent by 12 weeks post-discharge with more than a third having severe microcephaly. Poor post-discharge growth velocity was associated with subsequent growth failure.
Recommendations: Growth velocity monitoring among preterm VLBW infants should be emphasized. The implication and interventions of this early growth failure needs to be explored.