Perinatal characteristics and parents' perspective of health status of NICU graduates born at term
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OBJECTIVE: Long-term outcomes of preterm infants have been extensively studied, but few studies have examined long-term outcomes of term infants who require neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Our objectives were to assess perinatal characteristics and health status of preschool age term babies using data from a population-based study of NICU graduates. STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective cross-sectional survey. All babies were born in 1996 to 1997 in BC (Canada). The Health Status Classification System Preschool (HSCS-PS) questionnaire was completed by parents at 42 months of age. HSCS-PS was grouped in four categories (neurosensory, learning, motor and quality of life). Logistic regression was used to identify perinatal risk factors associated with moderate/severe problems at 42 months of age. RESULT: Completed surveys were received for 261 term NICU survivors and 393 control children. Term infants represent 32% of all NICU admissions. Mean birth weight of NICU graduates was 3458 g (s.d.=600 g). Median length-of-stay in NICU was 5 days. At 42 months, the NICU group had significantly more problems on the HSCS-PS as compared to the full-term healthy infants in neurosensory, motor and learning/remembering. Moderate/severe health status problems were associated with congenital anomalies (odds ratio (OR), 3.2; confidence interval (CI): 1.3 to 7.8); smoking status (OR, 2.7, CI: 1.1 to 6.6) and SNAP score (OR, 1.04; CI: 1.0 to 1.1). CONCLUSION: Term babies admitted to NICUs may have significant health issues in childhood. Greater attention needs to be paid to long-term outcomes of term NICU graduates. Further study is warranted to address which NICU term survivors warrant secondary and/or tertiary-level neurodevelopmental follow-up.
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