An overview of risk factors for poor neurodevelopmental outcome associated with prematurity
Preterm birth is a major cause of neonatal mortality and morbidity. While advances in medical care have improved the survival of preterm infants, neurodevelopmental problems persist in this population. This article aims to review factors associated with their neurodevelopmental outcomes.
English language studies of neurodevelopmental outcomes in preterm infants were retrieved from PubMed. A total of 100 related publications were included.
Early gestational age and birth weight are the most significant predictors of poor long-term neurological outcome. Structural changes of the brain, infection, male gender and neonatal intensive care unit course are also important factors affecting eventual outcome. Other complex biological and socio-economic factors, which extend from prenatal through postnatal periods, up through and including adulthood, also affect the trajectory of brain development in preterm infants.
Neurodevelopmental problems continue to affect the preterm population. There is a critical need for collaboration among geneticists, obstetricians, pediatricians, and neuroimaging and rehabilitation experts to determine early predictive factors and neuroprotective therapies to properly treat or prevent poor neurodevelopmental outcomes in these infants.