Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a frequent complication in extremely preterm born infants that seriously affects outcome. We aimed to describe the prevalence of PH in extremely preterm infants and the policy on screening and follow-up in the ten Dutch intensive care units (NICUs). We performed a retrospective cohort study at the University Medical Centre Groningen on infants with gestational age <30 weeks and/or birthweight <1000 g, born between 2012 and 2013. Additionally, we carried out a survey among the Dutch NICUs covering questions on the awareness of PH, the perceived prevalence, and policy regarding screening and following PH in extremely preterm infants. Prevalence of early-onset PH in our study was 26% and 5% for late-onset PH. PH was associated with poor survival and early-onset PH was associated with subsequent development of bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD). All the NICUs completed the questionnaire and we found that no standardized policy existed regarding screening and following PH in extremely preterm infants.
Conclusion: Despite the frequent occurrence of PH and its clinically important consequences, (inter-)national standardized guidelines regarding screening and following of PH in extremely preterm infants are lacking. Standardizing screening and follow-up will enable early identification of infants with late-onset PH and allow for earlier treatment. Additionally, greater clarity is required regarding the prevalence of early PH as are new preventive treatment strategies to combat BPD.
What is known?
center dot Pulmonary hypertension (PH) substantially impairs the survival of extremely preterm infants.
center dot PH is associated with bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD): Early-onset PH predicts the development of BPD. Late-onset PH is prevalent in infants with severe BPD.
What is new?
center dot Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is prevalent in preterm infants. Its consequences for morbidity and mortality justify a standardized policy aimed at early detection to improve prevention and treatment.
center dot No structured policy exists in the Netherlands regarding screening/follow-up for PH in extremely preterm infants.