Adolescents born extremely preterm have more than HEADSS to worry about

Preterm infants are known to have higher rates of chronic health care needs compared to peers in long term outcome studies. This case control study looks at 132 extremely preterm children born at two Swedish tertiary care centers (and 103 matched peers) during 10 to 15 years of age using interviews and testing. This study supports previous findings that adolescents with history of prematurity have increased chronic health issues. This study also looks at physical impairment of these adolescents, a less commonly studied outcome. Only 5-9% had severe physical limitations that impaired daily activity though almost half reported having one functional limitation which is significantly different from general population (which reported 6% having at least one functional limitation).

Though severe impairment was not common in this group of adolescents with history of extreme prematurity, as a provider we still have to take in consideration that any physical difference in this age group can affect an adolescent’s well being. This study did not assess mental health.

Kristie Malik, MD

Holsti A et al. Chronic Conditions and Health Care Needs of Adolescents Born at 23 to 25 Weeks’ Gestation. Pediatrics 2017 Feb; 139(2). PMID: 28108580