To evaluate the outcome for all infants born before 26 weeks of gestation in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. This report is of survival and complications up until discharge from hospital.


A prospective observational study of all births between March 1, 1995 and December 31, 1995 from 20 to 25 weeks of gestation.


A total of 4004 births were recorded, and 811 infants were admitted for intensive care. Overall survival was 39% (n = 314). Male sex, no reported chorioamnionitis, no antenatal steroids, persistent bradycardia at 5 minutes, hypothermia, and high Clinical Risk Index for Babies (CRIB) score were all independently associated with death. Of the survivors, 17% had parenchymal cysts and/or hydrocephalus, 14% received treatment for retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), and 51% needed supplementary oxygen at the expected date of delivery. Failure to administer antenatal steroids and postnatal transfer for intensive care within 24 hours of birth were predictive of major scan abnormality; lower gestation was predictive of severe ROP, while being born to a black mother was protective. Being of lower gestation, male sex, tocolysis, low maternal age, neonatal hypothermia, a high CRIB score, and surfactant therapy were all predictive of oxygen dependency. Intensive care was provided in 137 units, only 8 of which had >5 survivors. There was no difference in survival between institutions when divided into quintiles based on their numbers of extremely preterm births or admissions.


This study provides outcome data for this geographically defined cohort; survival and neonatal morbidity are consistent with previous data from the United Kingdom and facilitate comparison with other geographically based data.

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