The neurodevelopmental progress of infants less than 33 weeks into adolescence

F O'Brien, S Roth, A Stewart, L Rifkin, T Rushe, J Wyatt

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Background: Several studies have shown an increased incidence of neurodevelopmental impairment in very preterm survivors at school age compared with controls.

Aim: To compare findings in the same cohort at 8 years and 15 years.

Methods: A total of 151 of the 224 eligible infants born before 33 weeks of gestation from 1979 to 1982, and who were living in the UK, were assessed at 8 and 15 years. Items common to both assessments were compared to evaluate changes in neurodevelopmental function. The assessment included a structured neurological examination, psychometric tests using the WISC-R (in subjects born in 1981-82), a test of visuomotor integration (Beery), and a school questionnaire.

Results: There was a significant increase in the proportion of subjects classified as impaired with disability from 11% at 8 to 22% at 14-15 years of age. The proportion of subjects classified as impaired without disability increased from 16% at 8 to 26% at 14-15 years of age. Full scale IQ decreased from 104 to 95 from childhood to adolescence, and more adolescents (24%) were requiring extra educational provision than they had at the age of 8 years (15%).

Conclusion: Results indicate that between the ages of 8 and 15 years in this cohort of very preterm survivors there is an apparent deterioration in neurodevelopmental outcome category, cognitive function, and extra educational support. It is not clear whether this represents a genuine deterioration in neurocognitive function or whether it represents the expression of pre-existing cerebral pathology in an increasingly complex environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-211
Number of pages5
JournalArchives of Disease in Childhood
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 01 Mar 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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