Objectives: To assess the use of healthcare resources for preterm infants and to evaluate family function and socioeconomic support in a defined population from birth to 4 years of age.
Methods: In a prospective case-control study, 39 singleton preterm infants without prenatal abnormalities born during an 18 month period were studied together with their families. The population consisted of 19 very preterm infants (less than 32 weeks) and 20 randomised moderate preterm infants (32–35 weeks), and the control group comprised 39 full term infants. Contacts with medical services, child health services, and the social welfare system were registered, and family function and life events were studied.
Results: The preterm children were more often readmitted to hospital (odds ratio (OR) 6.6, 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.0 to 22.1) and had more outpatient attendances (OR 5.6, 95% CI 2.1 to 15.0) during their first year of life. Mothers in the preterm group more often used temporary parental allowance than the control mothers (p < 0.001). The number of contacts with the child health services and the social welfare system did not differ significantly from the controls. Neither was there any significant difference with regard to family function or life events at 4 years of age.
Conclusions: A large proportion of the premature children used specialist care during the first years of life. However, the families of the preterm infants were socially well adapted up to four years after birth compared with the control families.
- preterm infants
- follow up
- child health
- family function
- socioeconomic factors
- CHS, child health services
- FARS, Family relation scale
- OR, odds ratio
- CI, confidence interval
- TPA, temporary parental allowance
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