Evidence-based care of extremely preterm infants (<28 weeks’ gestation) depends heavily on research in which a primary outcome is infant neurodevelopmental impairment (NDI), yet it is unclear how well NDI in infancy predicts long-term NDI. In this study, we aim to assess the relationship between 2- and 10-year neurodevelopment using a well-known 2-year definition and a 10-year definition developed by an expert panel.
Using data from the Extremely Low Gestational Age Newborn Study cohort, we classified 2-year NDI using definitions developed by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Neonatal Research Network. We classified 10-year NDI using definitions developed by an expert panel, which added epilepsy and ASD at 10 years.
Of 1506 infants, 80% survived. Data sufficient to classify severity of NDI at both 2 and 10 years were available for 67% of survivors (n = 802). Among children classified as having moderate to severe NDI at 2 years, 63% had none to mild NDI at 10 years; among children classified as having profound NDI at 2 years, 36% had none to mild NDI at 10 years. Cohen’s κ statistic indicated minimal to fair agreement between NDI at 2 and 10 years (0.34, P < .001).
NDI in infancy, as defined in this study, only weakly predicts NDI in middle childhood. For the parents at risk for delivery of an extremely preterm infant, a hopeful message can be taken from our findings that one-third of surviving children classified as having profound NDI and nearly two-thirds of those classified as having moderate to severe NDI at 2 years had none to mild NDI at 10 years.