Infections are known to be a frequent complication among ELBW (14.2 ounces to 35.3 ounces) preterm infants, and are associated with short-term illness and increased risk of death, according to background information in the article.
Barbara J. Stoll, M.D., of the Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, and colleagues conducted a study to determine if neonatal (during the first 120 days of life) infections are associated with adverse neurodevelopmental and growth abnormalities in early childhood.
The study included infants, born 1993-2001, who were enrolled in a very low-birth-weight registry at academic medical centers participating in the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Neonatal Research Network. Neurodevelopmental and growth outcomes were assessed at a comprehensive follow-up visit at 18 to 22 months (from conception) and compared by infection group. Eighty percent of survivors completed the follow-up visit and 6,093 infants were studied. Registry data were used to classify infants by type of infection: uninfected (n = 2,161), clinical infection alone (negative infection requiring 5 days or more of antibiotics; n = 1,538), sepsis (positive blood cultures requiring 5 days or more of antibiotic treatment; n = 1,922), sepsis and necrotizing enterocolitis (inflammation involving both the small intestine and the colon; n = 279), or meningitis with or without sepsis (n = 193).
The majority of ELBW survivors (65 percent) had at least 1 infection during their hospitalization after birth. The researchers found that compared with uninfected infants, those in each of the 4 infection groups were significantly more likely to have adverse neurode
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