Background and Aims VLBW infants require intensive care in the neonatal period and to discharge. The aim of this investigation was to study the extent to which surviving children with birth weight (BW) < 1500 g was in need of medical specialist healthcare services as well as drug treatment after discharge to home.
Methods The study was conducted as a retrospective cohort study where four cohorts (1997, 1998, 2004, and 2007) of VLBW infants were followed. Data on perinatal factors that could contribute to increased risk for future health care needs, hospital admissions and outpatient visits as well as drug prescriptions after discharge were obtained from patient records. The study included 152 infants.
Results The study shows that VLBW infants have a significant need for later health care resources, particularly the first 4–7 years after discharge. During the first 4 years 70% of infants had been hospitalized with 3.6±6.0 admissions. They spent 25±29 days in hospital the first year decreasing to 6.5±9 days the fourth year. A significant higher admission rate was found for male infants, infants with BW < 1.000 grams, infants with broncopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), and infants treated for patent ductus arteriousus (PDA). Drugs were prescribed to 52.5% of infants with 1.5±1.8 drugs/year. Infants with BPD and PDA and BW < 1000 grams had significantly more drug prescriptions.
Conclusions Surviving VLBW infants have an increased need for health care resources several years after discharge. Emergency admissions and high admission rates in some infants might reflect suboptimal follow-up.