Growth in extremely preterm children born in England in 1995 and 2006: the EPICure studies

Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed. 2022 Mar;107(2):193-200. doi: 10.1136/archdischild-2020-321107. Epub 2021 Jul 13.


Objectives: To determine growth outcomes at 11 years of age in children born <27 weeks of gestation in England in 2006 (EPICure2) and to compare growth from birth to 11 years of age for births<26 weeks with those in England in 1995 (EPICure).

Methods: 200 EPICure2 children assessed at 11 years alongside 143 term-born controls. Growth measures from birth to 11 years were compared for births<26 weeks between EPICure2 (n=112) and EPICure (n=176). Growth parameter z-scores were derived from 1990 UK standards.

Results: Among EPICure2 children, mean z-scores for height and weight were close to the population standards (0.08 and 0.18 SD, respectively) but significantly below those of controls: difference in mean (Δ) z-scores for weight -0.42 SD (95% CI -0.68 to -0.17), for height -0.45 SD (-0.70 to -0.20) and for head circumference (HC) -1.05 SD (-1.35 to -0.75); mean body mass index (BMI) z-score in EPICure2 children was 0.18 SD, not significantly different from controls (0.43 SD, p=0.065). Compared with EPICure, EPICure2 children born <26 weeks at 11 years had higher z-scores for weight (Δ 0.72 (0.47, 0.96)), height (Δ 0.55 (0.29, 0.81)) and BMI (Δ 0.56 (0.24, 0.87)), which were not fully explained by perinatal/demographic differences between eras. Weight catch-up was greater from term-age to 2.5/3 years in EPICure2 than in EPICure (1.25 SD vs 0.53 SD; p<0.001). Poor HC growth was observed in EPICure2, unchanged from EPICure.

Conclusions: Since 1995, childhood growth in weight, height and BMI have improved for births <26 weeks of gestation, but there was no improvement in head growth.

Keywords: growth; neonatology.

MeSH terms

  • Body Height
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Child Development*
  • Child, Preschool
  • England / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / epidemiology
  • Gestational Age
  • Growth Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Extremely Premature / growth & development*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies