Health-Related Quality-of-Life Outcomes of Very Preterm or Very Low Birth Weight Adults: Evidence From an Individual Participant Data Meta-Analysis

Pharmacoeconomics. 2023 Jan;41(1):93-105. doi: 10.1007/s40273-022-01201-2. Epub 2022 Oct 26.


Background and objective: Assessment of health-related quality of life for individuals born very preterm and/or low birthweight (VP/VLBW) offers valuable complementary information alongside biomedical assessments. However, the impact of VP/VLBW status on health-related quality of life in adulthood is inconclusive. The objective of this study was to examine associations between VP/VLBW status and preference-based health-related quality-of-life outcomes in early adulthood.

Methods: Individual participant data were obtained from five prospective cohorts of individuals born VP/VLBW and controls contributing to the 'Research on European Children and Adults Born Preterm' Consortium. The combined dataset included over 2100 adult VP/VLBW survivors with an age range of 18-29 years. The main exposure was defined as birth before 32 weeks' gestation (VP) and/or birth weight below 1500 g (VLBW). Outcome measures included multi-attribute utility scores generated by the Health Utilities Index Mark 3 and the Short Form 6D. Data were analysed using generalised linear mixed models in a one-step approach using fixed-effects and random-effects models.

Results: VP/VLBW status was associated with a significant difference in the Health Utilities Index Mark 3 multi-attribute utility score of - 0.06 (95% confidence interval - 0.08, - 0.04) in comparison to birth at term or at normal birthweight; this was not replicated for the Short Form 6D. Impacted functional domains included vision, ambulation, dexterity and cognition. VP/VLBW status was not associated with poorer emotional or social functioning, or increased pain.

Conclusions: VP/VLBW status is associated with lower overall health-related quality of life in early adulthood, particularly in terms of physical and cognitive functioning. Further studies that estimate the effects of VP/VLBW status on health-related quality-of-life outcomes in mid and late adulthood are needed.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Birth Weight
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Infant, Extremely Premature*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Very Low Birth Weight / psychology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life*
  • Young Adult