Current Content
Volume 48 - Number 5
September/October 2022

Neurodevelopmental Outcomes Associated with Prematurity from Infancy Through Early School Age: A Literature Review

Shannon McGowan

Premature birth before 37 weeks gestation is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide in children less than age 5 years. Increased survival rates of preterm infants led to an increased risk of long-term neurological and developmental impairments. Prematurity accounts for many neurodevelopmental disabilities seen in the preschool and school-aged child. The gestational age of the child is related to the risk and severity of outcomes. Potential outcomes of prematurity include motor impairments, sensory impairments, language delays and disorders, and behavior and psychiatric disorders. Access to appropriate, long-term, follow-up care and resources for preterm infants after discharge from the neonatal intensive care unit plays a critical role in improving and maintaining function over time. Early intervention, public health programs, and education can help support premature infants and their families as they develop. Social determinants of health, such as maternal education level and income, also play a role in the outcomes of premature infants and can affect their access to health care and interventions. Pediatric health care providers play an important role in the comprehensive follow-up of preterm infants and identifying impairments early on to improve long-term outcomes.