Outcome of Very Low Birthweight or Very Preterm Infants with Special Consideration of Perinatal Events

  • A. Stewart
  • P. Hope


Preterm birth with a birthweight below 1500 g (very low birthweight — VLBW) is still an important perinatal complication, although reports from France of reductions in prevalence are encouraging (e.g. Papiernik et al. 1985). On average in “developed” countries, fewer than 2% of live babies born weigh less than 1500 g, but these infants still account for a large proportion of deaths in the early weeks of life. For example, in the United Kingdom, although only 0.9% of live births weighed < 1500 g in 1984, 48% of infants who died in the 1st week and 44% of those in the 1st month were of this low birthweight. This alone indicates that these pregnancies represent a major part of the perinatal workload, particularly for the staff of neonatal intensive care units. Estimates of the contribution from VLBW infants to childhood morbidity and disability are difficult to find. Alberman (1982) made some calculations, based on prevailing prevalence rates for various impairments and disabilities in the United Kingdom and estimated that VLBW infants accounted for about 1.9% of the major disabilities diagnosed in childhood in any 1 year in the United Kingdom, and she speculated that these infants probably contributed an even smaller proportion (0.8%) to the total of minor problems. More recently, there have been suggestions that VLBW infants, particularly those who weigh < 1000 g (extremely low birthweight — ELBW), continue to be major users of health care services right through the 1st year of life. For example, hospital admissions for respiratory infections or repair of hernias have been reported to be much more frequent among these infants, although actual estimates of the effects of these needs on services are not generally available. We should like to review reports on the current outcome of VLBW infants and to discuss a little information concerning the relationship between outcome and perinatal events which has resulted from prospective ultrasound (US) brain scan studies in the past 5 years.


Preterm Infant Cerebral Palsy Preterm Birth Neonatal Intensive Care Unit VLBW Infant 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Stewart
  • P. Hope

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