FRIDAY, March 25, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Most children born before 24 weeks have neurodevelopmental disorders and/or somatic diagnoses in childhood, according to a study published online March 23 in Acta Paediatrica.

Eva Morsing, Ph.D., from Lund University in Sweden, and colleagues examined childhood diagnoses in children born extremely preterm before 24 weeks of gestation using data retrieved from national Swedish registries from 2007 to 2018. A total of 383 children, born at a median of 23.3 weeks, with a median birthweight of 565 g, were studied.

The researchers found that 75 percent of the children had neurodevelopmental disorders including speech disorders, intellectual disabilities, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorders, visual impairment, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and hearing impairment (52, 40, 30, 24, 22, 17, 10, and 5 percent, respectively). Intellectual disabilities and visual impairment occurred in more boys than girls born at 23 weeks (45 versus 27 percent; 25 versus 14 percent). Fifty-five percent received habilitation care. Overall, 88 percent had somatic diagnoses, including asthma and failure to thrive/short stature (63 and 39 percent, respectively).

“As increasing survival leads to more children with problems derived from extremely preterm birth in the population, it is time to reflect on how services are organized to support these individuals throughout their lifespan,” writes the author of an accompanying editorial.

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