• Vol. 42 No. 1, 7–17
  • 15 January 2013

Short- and Long-Term Outcomes at 2, 5 and 8 Years Old for Neonates at Borderline Viability—An 11-Year Experience



Introduction: Neurodevelopmental outcome of borderline viability neonates have lagged behind improvement in survival figures. Accurate figures based on local outcome allow us to better counsel parents and to prognosticate with greater accuracy on both short- and long term outcomes.

Materials and Methods: A retrospective cohort study of 101 consecutively born neonates, born from 21 to 26 weeks gestation over an 11-year period from 1 January 1994 to 31 December 2005 was conducted. Long-term outcomes were assessed at 2, 5 and 8 years of age in terms of mental developmental index (MDI) or intelligence quotient (IQ) scores, hearing and visual impairments, handicaps and impairments, school placement and interventions required.

Results: Survival rates were 20.0%, 60.9%, 70.4% and 73.2% for neonates born at 21 to 23, 24, 25 and 26 weeks gestation respectively. Factors that predicted increased mortality included higher alveolar-arterial oxygen difference (AaDO2) with odds ratio (OR) 1.005 and lower birth weight OR 0.993. Rates of severe retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) (stage 3 or worse) were 100%, 57.1%, 42.1% and 26.7% for 21 to 23, 24, 25 and 26 weeks gestation respectively. Rates of bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) were 100.0%, 57.1%, 63.2% and 60.0% respectively. Rates of severe intraventricular haemorrhage (IVH) were 0%, 7.1%, 5.3% and 10.0% respectively. Moderate to severe disability rates at 2 years old were 100%, 44.4%, 33.3% and 30.4% respectively. At 5 years old, moderate to severe disability rates were 16.7%, 22.2% and 14.3% respectively for those born at 24, 25 and 26 weeks gestation. Interpretation at 8 years was limited by small numbers.

Conclusion: Our results indicated that local figures for mortality and morbidity remained high at the limits of viability, although they were comparable to outcomes for large scale studies in advanced countries.

Singapore was listed consistently among the top 3 countries in the world with the lowest infant mortality rate. In particular, Asia had seen its infant mortality rate improve dramatically with time. Advances in perinatal care had however, failed to improve the survival of extremely low birth weight infants of gestation age ≤26 weeks in recent years. Decision-making about the treatment for neonates at the threshold of viability is a complex process that involves the physicians, other health care professionals and the family.

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