Risk of developmental delay increases exponentially as gestational age of preterm infants decreases: a cohort study at age 4 years

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Aim The aim of the study was to assess the influence of decreasing gestational age on the risk of developmental delay in various domains at age 4 years among children born at a wide range of gestational ages.

Method In a community-based cohort, the parents of 1439 preterm-born children (24 0/7 to 35 6/7wks) and 544 term-born children (38 0/7 to 41 6/7wks) born in 2002 and 2003 completed the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) when their child was 3 years 7 months to 4 years 1 month old. The prevalence rates of abnormal scores on the ASQ-total problems scale were compared in preterm and term-born children and the resulting odds ratios for gestational age groups were calculated and adjusted for social and biological covariates.

Results The prevalence rates of abnormal scores on the ASQ-total problems scale increased with decreasing gestational age: from 4.2% among term-born children to 37.5% among children born at 2425 weeks gestation (p

Interpretation The risk of developmental delay increases exponentially with decreasing gestational age below 36 weeks gestation on all developmental domains of the ASQ. Adjustment for covariates did not alter the pattern of exponential increase in developmental risk with decreasing gestational age. We speculate that both direct perinatal cerebral injuries and tropic and maturational brain disturbances are involved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1096-1101
Number of pages6
JournalDevelopmental Medicine and Child Neurology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec-2012


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