OBJECTIVE: To describe the long-term neurodevelopmental and cognitive outcomes for children born preterm.
STUDY DESIGN: In this retrospective cohort study, information on children born in Western Australia between 1983 and 2010 was obtained through linkage to population databases on births, deaths, and disabilities. For the purpose of this study, disability was defined as a diagnosis of intellectual disability, autism, or cerebral palsy. The Kaplan-Meier method was used to estimate the probability of disability-free survival up to age 25 years by gestational age. The effect of covariates and predicted survival was examined using parametric survival models.
RESULTS: Of the 720 901 recorded live births, 12 083 children were diagnosed with disability, and 5662 died without any disability diagnosis. The estimated probability of disability-free survival to 25 years was 4.1% for those born at gestational age 22 weeks, 19.7% for those born at 23 weeks, 42.4% for those born at 24 weeks, 53.0% for those born at 25 weeks, 78.3% for those born at 28 weeks, and 97.2% for those born full term (39-41 weeks). There was substantial disparity in the predicted probability of disability-free survival for children born at all gestational ages by birth profile, with 5-year estimates of 4.9% and 10.4% among Aboriginal and Caucasian populations, respectively, born at 24-27 weeks and considered at high risk (based on low Apgar score, male sex, low sociodemographic status, and remote region of residence) and 91.2% and 93.3%, respectively, for those at low risk (ie, high Apgar score, female sex, high sociodemographic status, residence in a major city).
CONCLUSIONS: Apgar score, birth weight, sex, socioeconomic status, and maternal ethnicity, in addition to gestational age, have pronounced impacts on disability-free survival.