The increase in survival of preterm infants that has resulted mainly
from pharmacological and technological advances in perinatal care in the last
decade has been associated with a growing concern about the neurodevelopmental
outcomes of the infants, especially those of extremely low birth weight and
gestational age.1,2 Poor outcomes
during early childhood include global cognitive delay, cerebral palsy, blindness,
and deafness. By school age, poor academic achievement, behavioral difficulties,
and poor social and adaptive functioning become evident in children without
obvious neurodevelopmental impairments. These children have lower intelligence
scores when compared with those of normal birth weight, and on neuropsychological
testing, they perform more poorly on measures of attention, executive function,
memory, spatial skills, and fine and gross motor function. Problems with these
skills are evident even in children with normal intelligence and no overt
neurosensory abnormalities, although detailed neurologic examinations have
revealed minor neurologic deficits in many of the children.3
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