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PaediatricApr 27, 2021

Children born prematurely represent a growing 'burden' to their families and healthcare providers

The rising number of preterm babies – a category referring to those born before the 37th week of pregnancy – is having a growing impact on the workloads of physiotherapists and others in healthcare and education systems around the world.

That is the conclusion of a team of researchers led by Véronique Pierrat, from Tenon Hospital in Paris, whose observational study appears in the latest edition of The BMJ.


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Children with disabilities share a hug at pre-school (stock image)

The team’s findings are based on 3,083 French children whose progress is being tracked in a study titled EPIPAGE-2 – an investigation into outcomes in preterm children that has been running for 15 years. There is a comparison group of 600 children who were born at full term.

For The BMJ study, Dr Pierrat and colleagues examined the progress of the preterm children at the age of five and a half. It emerged that developmental difficulties were commonly reported among those who were born at an extremely preterm stage (from 22 to 26 weeks), as well as among those born at a very and moderately preterm stage (from 27 to 34 weeks).

The study focuses on neurodevelopmental outcomes – such as cerebral palsy, sensory impairments (blindness and de...

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