Neurodevelopmental disorders and somatic diagnoses in a national cohort of children born before 24 weeks of gestation
Journal article, 2022

Aim: This study investigated childhood diagnoses in children born extremely preterm before 24 weeks of gestation. Methods: Diagnoses of neurodevelopmental disorders and selected somatic diagnoses were retrospectively retrieved from national Swedish registries for children born before 24 weeks from 2007 to 2018. Their individual medical files were also examined. Results: We studied 383 children born at a median of 23.3 (range 21.9–23.9) weeks, with a median birthweight of 565 (range 340–874) grams. Three-quarters (75%) had neurodevelopmental disorders, including speech disorders (52%), intellectual disabilities (40%), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (30%), autism spectrum disorders (24%), visual impairment (22%), cerebral palsy (17%), epilepsy (10%) and hearing impairment (5%). More boys than girls born at 23 weeks had intellectual disabilities (45% vs. 27%, p < 0.01) and visual impairment (25% vs. 14%, p < 0.01). Just over half of the cohort (55%) received habilitation care. The majority (88%) had somatic diagnoses, including asthma (63%) and failure to thrive/short stature (39%). Conclusion: Most children born before 24 weeks had neurodevelopmental disorders and/or additional somatic diagnoses in childhood and were referred to habilitation services. Clinicians should be aware of the multiple health and developmental problems affecting these children. Resources are needed to identify their long-term support needs at an early stage.

long-term support

neurodevelopmental disorders

somatic disorders

extremely preterm birth

habilitation care


Eva Morsing

Lund University

Pia Lundgren

University of Gothenburg

Anna Lena Hård

University of Gothenburg

Alexander Rakow

Karolinska University Hospital

Lena Hellström-Westas

Uppsala University

Lena Jacobson

Karolinska University Hospital

University of Gothenburg

Mats Johnson

University of Gothenburg

Staffan Nilsson

Chalmers, Mathematical Sciences, Applied Mathematics and Statistics

University of Gothenburg

Lois E.H. Smith

Harvard Medical School

Karin Sävman

University of Gothenburg

Sahlgrenska University Hospital

Ann Hellström

University of Gothenburg

Acta Paediatrica, International Journal of Paediatrics

0803-5253 (ISSN) 1651-2227 (eISSN)

Vol. In Press

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4/5/2022 9