Introduction: The survival of preterm babies has increased worldwide, but the risk of neuro-developmental disabilities remains high, which is of concern to both the public and professionals. The early identification of children at risk of neuro-developmental disabilities may increase access to intervention, potentially influencing the outcome. Aims: Neuroprem is an area-based prospective cohort study on the neuro-developmental outcome of very low birth weight (VLBW) infants that aims to define severe functional disability at 2 years of age. Methods: Surviving VLBW infants from an Italian network of 7 neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) were assessed for 24 months through the Griffiths Mental Developmental Scales (GMDS-R) or the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development (BSDI III) and neuro-functional evaluation according to the International Classification of Disability and Health (ICF-CY). The primary outcome measure was severe functional disability at 2 years of age, defined as cerebral palsy, a BSDI III cognitive composite score < 2 standard deviation (SD) or a GMDS-R global quotients score < 2 SD, bilateral blindness or deafness. Results: Among 211 surviving VLBW infants, 153 completed follow-up at 24 months (72.5%). Thirteen patients (8.5%) developed a severe functional disability, of whom 7 presented with cerebral palsy (overall rate of 4.5%). Patients with cerebral palsy were all classified with ICF-CY scores of 3 or 4. BSDI III composite scores and GMDS-R subscales were significantly correlated with ICF-CY scores (p < 0.01). Conclusion: Neuroprem represents an Italian network of NICUs aiming to work together to ensure preterm neuro-developmental assessment. This study updates information on VLBW outcomes in an Italian region, showing a rate of cerebral palsy and major developmental disabilities in line with or even lower than those of similar international studies. Therefore, Neuroprem provides encouraging data on VLBW neurological outcomes and supports the implementation of a preterm follow-up programme from a national network perspective.
- Neuro-developmental outcome
- Very low birth weight preterm
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health