Cerebral Damage Key Risk for Visual Impairment in Preemies

Cerebral damage and retinopathy of prematurity independent risk factors for visual impairment

WEDNESDAY, June 13 (HealthDay News) -- Cerebral damage and retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) are both independent risk factors for visual impairment in preschool children who were born extremely premature, with cerebral damage being the primary risk factor, according to a study published online June 11 in the Archives of Ophthalmology.

Carina Slidsborg, M.D., of the Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark, and colleagues conducted a clinical follow-up study of 178 extremely preterm (<28 weeks) children born from February 2004 to March 2006, and a matched control group of 56 term-born children. Visual acuity, foveal sequelae, and maximum ROP stage, as well as the presence of global developmental deficits (indicative of cerebral damage), were evaluated to identify the importance of cerebral damage and ROP for visual impairment.

The researchers found that foveal sequelae and global developmental deficits increased with ROP severity and occurred more frequently in extremely preterm children compared with term-born children. There were independent associations between visual impairment and global developmental deficits (odds ratio, 8.7), moderate-to-severe foveal abnormality (odds ratio, 6.3), and ROP treatment.

"Cerebral damage and ROP are independent risk factors for visual impairment in children born extremely premature, with cerebral damage being the primary risk factor," the authors write.

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