Objective To study changes in self-reported quality of life (QoL) in very low birth weight (VLBW: ≤1500 g) young adults, and to examine correlations between QoL and motor skills in young adult age.
Design/methods A hospital-based follow-up study of 28 VLBW young adults without cerebral palsy and 29 term-born controls. Data was collected by the Short Form 36 Health Survey (SF-36) at 19 and 23 years, and the Grooved Pegboard test (GP), Trail Making Test-5 (TMT-5), Movement Assessment Battery for Children-2 (MABC-2) and High-level Mobility Assessment Tool (HiMAT) at 23 years.
Results At 19 years of age, there were no group differences in SF-36 scores, whereas VLBW participants at 23 years had lower physical functioning, role-physical, social functioning and role-emotional scores, and lower physical and mental component scores than controls (p < 0.05). In the VLBW group, the change from 19–23 years was -2.6 (95% CI:-4.5,-0.6) points for the physical, and -3.7 (95% CI:-6.4,-0.9) points for the mental component score (p = 0.01). The physical component score correlated with results on TMT-5, MABC-2 and HiMAT, and the mental component score with TMT-5, after adjustment for intelligence quotient. Corresponding findings were not seen in the control group (change in physical and mental component scores: 0.3;95% CI:-2.0,2.6 and -0.1;95% CI:-3.3,-3.3) (p > 0.8), and no correlations with motor skills were found.
Conclusion At 23 years, VLBW participants without cerebral palsy reported poorer QoL than controls, and lower QoL scores were correlated with poorer motor skills. It may be of concern that QoL seems to decrease as the young VLBW adults get older.