To compare the health status and health-related quality of life of teen-aged children who were extremely low birth weight (ELBW) with matched controls from the perspective of their parents.
Geographically defined cohort; longitudinal follow-up; cross-sectional interviews. Participants: parents of 149/169 (88%) ELBW children between 12 and 16 years of age (including 41 children with neurosensory impairments) and 126/145 (87%) parents of term controls. Health status of the teenagers was classified according to the 6 attributes of the Health Utilities Index Mark 2, based on information obtained during parent interviews. Parents were asked to imagine themselves living in their own child's health state and 4 preselected hypothetical health states when providing directly measured standard gamble utility scores.
Parents of ELBW children reported a higher frequency and more complex functional limitations than parents of controls for their own children's health status. Also, the mean utilities were lower (ELBW = .91 vs controls = .97) and the variability in their scores was greater. There were no differences in the valuation of the hypothetical health states provided by parents of ELBW and control children.
ELBW children were reported to have a greater burden of disability than were control children based on parental descriptions. Nonetheless, parents of ELBW children, on average, rated the health-related quality of life of their children fairly high. Thus, differences in reported functional status are not necessarily associated with lower utility scores.