All surviving infants from nine neonatal intensive care units (NICU) in a southern city and county of Taiwan were followed up and assessed at 2 y of age if they had a birthweight of less than 2000 g and were born between February 1, 1993 and January 31, 1994. The assessments included: neurological, growth and general health. A comparison group of normal birthweight and full-term infants without congenital anomalies, matched by birth month and sex to the NICU survivors was also studied with respect to the same outcome measures. A developmental delay (either a severe neurological deficit or Mental Development Index <68 or Psychomotor Development Index <68) was present in 21 (15.4%) of the cases, compared to 3 (2.5%) of the controls (P <0.0004). Significant correlates of developmental outcome for the cases were birthweight, gestational age, and maternal education. The very low birthweight (VLBW) children (<1500 g) in our study cohort had a comparatively higher incidence of severe neurological deficits (and cerebral palsy) than that reported by other similar studies in developed countries. The incidence of abnormal neurodevelopmental outcome remained high in the graduates of NICU at 2 y of age, compared to that in normal controls. The findings have important implications in future health policy making regarding postnatal management of the surviving infants of NICU in developing countries such as Taiwan.
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