Objective: To determine the outcome to five years of age of liveborn children born at 24-26 weeks' gestation.
Design: Regional cohort study of preterm children.
Subjects: Consecutive children liveborn at 24-26 weeks' gestation in Victoria from 1 January 1985 to 31 December 1987.
Main outcome measures: Survival rates and rates of sensorineural impairment and disability at five years of age.
Results: 95 of 316 (30.1%) children survived to five years; survival rates increased with gestational age. 94 children (99%) were assessed at five or more years of age, corrected for prematurity. Twelve children had some form of cerebral palsy, causing a severe disability in only one. Two children required hearing aids for sensorineural deafness, five had bilateral blindness, and four were too disabled for intelligence quotient measurement. Overall, sensorineural disability was severe in seven (7.4%), moderate in seven (7.4%), mild in 23 (24.5%), and nil in 57 (60.6%) of children assessed. There was no trend to increasing disability with lower gestational age.
Conclusions: The sensorineural outcome for this cohort is mostly favourable, and is better than that reported from some contemporaneous regional cohorts born in other parts of the world. The rates of sensorineural impairments, such as blindness and cerebral palsy, are higher than in non-preterm children but are not inordinately high, and most have no sensorineural impairment or disability.