The risk of cerebral palsy (CP) is high in preterm infants and is often accompanied by additional neurodevelopmental comorbidities. The present study describes lifetime prevalence of CP in a population-based prospective cohort of children born extremely preterm, including the type and severity of CP and other comorbidities (ie, developmental delay and/or cognitive impairment, neurobehavioral morbidity, epilepsy, vision and hearing impairments), and overall severity of disability. In this study, we also evaluate whether age at assessment, overall severity of disability, and available sources of information influence outcome results.
All Swedish children born before 27 weeks’ gestation from 2004 to 2007 were included (the Extremely Preterm Infants in Sweden Study). The combination of neonatal information, information from clinical examinations and neuropsychological assessments at 2.5 and 6.5 years of age, original medical chart reviews, and extended chart reviews was used.
The outcome was identified in 467 (94.5%) of eligible children alive at 1 year of age. Forty-nine (10.5%) children had a lifetime diagnosis of CP, and 37 (76%) were ambulatory. Fourteen (29%) had CP diagnosed after 2.5 years of age, 37 (76%) had at least 1 additional comorbidity, and 27 (55%) had severe disability. The probability for an incomplete evaluation was higher in children with CP compared with children without CP.
Children born extremely preterm with CP have various comorbidities and often overall severe disability. The importance of long-term follow-up and of obtaining comprehensive outcome information from several sources in children with disabilities is shown.