Objective To assess Health Related Quality of Life (HRQoL) at 4.5 years in preterm infants.
Methods The Leiden Follow-Up Project on Prematurity, a regional, prospective study, includes all liveborn infants <32 wks GA born in 1996–1997 (n = 266). HRQoL was measured using the TNO-AZL- Preschool- Quality of Life-questionnaire (TAPQOL) which has 12 scales for children aged 1.5–5 yrs: stomach problems, appetite, lung problems, skin problems, sleeping, motor functioning, problem behavior, social functioning, positive mood, anxiety, liveliness and communication. HRQoL-scores are 100 maximally. TAPQOL-data of 60 children drawn from “Well-Baby-Clinics” were used as control group.
Results 150 questionnaires of 236 survivors were returned (64%). Children lost to follow-up were more frequently of non-Dutch origin and lower socio-economic status. The majority of preterm children had optimal HRQoL-scores (median 100) in the lung problems, skin problems, motor functioning, social functioning, positive mood, liveliness and communication scales. The median scores in the other scales: stomach problems, appetite: 91.7, sleeping 87.5, problem behavior: 71.4, anxiety 83.3. Non-Dutch origin was associated with lower scores in the positive mood scale. Compared to the controls the preterm children scored worse on the motor functioning (optimal HRQOL in 72 vs 88% in controls, p = 0.01) and communication scales (optimal HRQOL in 55 vs 68% in controls, p = 0.04).
Conclusion HRQoL in pre-school preterm children is optimal in most scales. Compared to children from Well Baby Clinics the preterm children scored worse in motor functioning and communication which most likely reflects a larger number of neurologically abnormal children in the study group.