In the period from September 1983 until June 1986 a prospective study was carried out to determine the incidence and severity of retinopathy of prematurity in inborn infants of less than 1500 g at birth and the risk factors associated with the development of retinopathy of prematurity in infants of less than 31 weeks' gestation. One hundred and forty four infants were eligible for inclusion in the study. Altogether 140 infants of less than 1500 g birth weight were examined, 42 (30%) of whom developed retinopathy of prematurity. Fifteen of these infants had progression to advanced disease (stage III or stage IV). One hundred and seventeen of the infants were of less than 31 weeks' gestation and 34 (29%) of them developed retinopathy of prematurity. Thirty four risk factors shown previously to be associated with the development of the disease were collected prospectively and analysed using multiple logistic regression analysis to determine the independently significant variables. Three risk factors: acidosis, the number of times that the pH was less than 7.2; hyperoxia, the number of times that arterial oxygen tension was greater than 12 kPa; and gestational age were found to be independently associated with the development of retinopathy of prematurity in these infants. These findings suggest that acidosis may be an important aetiological factor in the pathogenesis of this disease.
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