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Behavioural outcomes at 3 years of age among late preterm infants admitted to neonatal intensive care: a cohort study


Objective Examine the behavioural outcomes at age 3 years of late preterm infants (LPIs) who were admitted to neonatal intensive care (NIC) in comparison with LPIs who were not admitted.

Method This cohort study prospectively recruited 225 children born late preterm (34–36+6 weeks gestation) in 2006 in Northern Ireland, now aged 3 years. Two groups were compared: LPIs who received NIC (study; n=103) and LPIs who did not receive NIC (control; n=122). Parents/guardians completed the Child Behaviour Checklist/1½-5. Descriptive maternal and infant data were also collected.

Results As expected LPI children admitted to NIC had higher medical risk than the non-admitted comparison group (increased caesarean section, born at earlier gestation, lower birth weight and an episode of resuscitation at birth). LPIs admitted to NIC scored higher on the Child Behaviour Checklist/1½-5 compared with those who were not admitted indicating more behavioural problems; this was statistically significant for the Aggressive Behaviour Subscale (z=−2.36) and the Externalising Problems Scale (z=−2.42). The group difference on the Externalising Problems Scale was no longer significant after controlling for gender, gestational age and deprivation score.

Conclusions This study provides valuable data on the behaviour at age 3 years of LPIs admitted to NIC compared with LPIs not admitted to NIC. Further research would be beneficial to explore medical and psychosocial explanations for observed differences between groups using large prospective cohort studies.

  • Late Preterm Infants
  • Neonatology
  • Neonatal Intensive Care
  • Behaviour
  • Outcomes Research

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