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Long-term neurodevelopmental outcome of preterm infants: Epidemiology and risk factors

Deanne Wilson-Costello, MD
Allison Payne, MD MS
Section Editors
Richard Martin, MD
Marilyn Augustyn, MD
Deputy Editor
Melanie S Kim, MD


Impaired neurodevelopmental outcome is a significant long-term complication associated with preterm birth. The risk of neurodevelopmental impairment and behavior and psychological problems increases with decreasing gestational age.

Long-term neurodevelopmental outcomes for survivors of preterm birth beyond the period of infancy will be reviewed here. The follow-up neurodevelopmental care for preterm infants is discussed separately. (See "Long-term neurodevelopmental outcome of preterm infants: Management".)

In addition, overviews of the incidence, survival, post-discharge medical care, and short-term complications of the preterm infant are found separately. (See "Incidence and mortality of the preterm infant" and "Short-term complications of the preterm infant" and "Care of the neonatal intensive care unit graduate".)


Preterm birth — Degrees of preterm birth are typically defined by gestational age (GA) or birth weight (BW). The following definitions are used throughout this review.

The classification based upon GA is as follows:


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Literature review current through: May 2017. | This topic last updated: Jun 19, 2017.
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