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Disabilities and health of extremely low‐birthweight teenagers: a population‐based study

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Aim:  Evaluation of long‐term outcome of extremely low‐birthweight (ELBW) teenagers born in Iceland in 1991–1995.

Method:  Participants, 30 of 35 ELBW survivors and 30 full term control teenagers (14–19 years), were assessed for disabilities, health problems and learning difficulties. Results of national standardized tests in mathematics and Icelandic language were compared with results of neurodevelopmental assessment at 5 years of age.

Results:  A quarter of the ELBW teenagers had disabilities. All were initially diagnosed with neurodevelopmental disorders early in life and neurosensory and/or intellectual disabilities were confirmed later in childhood. Chronic lung disorders, neurological problems and psychiatric disorders were most common health problems. Growth parameters were within normal limits for most of the ELBW teenagers. Learning difficulties affected 57% of the ELBW teenagers, 20% attended special education classes and 37% required special teaching. Results of national standardized tests were significantly lower for ELBW survivors and were significantly related to the results of neurodevelopmental assessment at 5 years of age.

Interpretation:  A quarter of ELBW teenagers have disabilities albeit most of them mild. Chronic health problems and learning difficulties affect many ELBW survivors. Changes with time emphasize need of long‐term follow‐up.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: .The State Diagnostic and Counselling Centre, Kopavogur, Iceland 2: .Faculty of Medicine, The University of Iceland, Reykjavík, Iceland 3: .Science Institute, The University of Iceland, Reykjavík, Iceland 4: .Faculty of Medicine and The Children’s Hospital, The University of Iceland, Reykjavík, Iceland

Publication date: 01 May 2012

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