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Moderate prematurity and outcome in childhood: there are dangers in jumping to the wrong conclusions
  1. Martin Ward Platt
  1. Correspondence to Dr Martin Ward Platt, Neonatal Service, Neonatal Service (Ward 35), Royal Victoria Infirmary, Queen Victoria Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 4LP, UK; m.p.ward-platt{at}ncl.ac.uk

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Over the last few years, and after a long period of relative neglect, the outcomes of babies born from 32 weeks’ gestation up to ‘term’ have received increasing attention from researchers, and several papers on this topic have been published in Archives of Disease in Childhood. It is clear that being born moderately preterm is associated with a spectrum of disadvantage that affects various domains of development at 2 years,1 and cognitive, behavioural and emotional functions well into the school years. But how much is this because of preterm delivery itself, and how much is moderate prematurity merely a marker for other factors that are the real causes of suboptimal outcomes in childhood?

The paper by Potijk et al,2 who studied babies ≥32 weeks and <36 weeks, demonstrates an association between the co-occurrence of emotional/behavioural problems and developmental issues, and the degree of moderate prematurity, compared with term controls. Potijk et al note that their findings suggest, in comparison with other published data, that emotional/behavioural and developmental problems seem to occur more frequently in children with a history of more significant preterm birth (<32 weeks) than in their near-term cohort, and that the …

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