Preterm birth is the leading cause of Under 5 mortality globally, and it is a risk factor for compromised neurodevelopment, learning disabilities, mental ill-health, and in some instances, could impact economic potential in adult life. Each year, 15 million babies are born preterm. Preterm birth could be categorised as very-, moderate- and late preterm for deliveries at <32, 32-<34, and 34-36+6 weeks of gestation, respectively.
The severity of neurodevelopmental disability correlates with decreasing gestational age at birth. Prognosis among moderate to late preterm children is better compared to those born very preterm. However, the risk of compromised neurodevelopment is 2 to 3 times higher among moderate to late preterm children when compared with children born at term (>, =37 weeks of gestation).
In the UK, only children born very preterm are offered routine neurodevelopmental follow-up at age 2 despite the increased risk among moderate to late preterm children. Offering early neurodevelopmental assessment is an opportunity to identify preterm children who may have delayed development and to provide early interventions where needed. The unavailability of a suitable tool for large-scale screening and other resource implications are among the reasons for the missed opportunity to offer routine screening to all children born preterm.
In my study, I sort to:
1) assess the validity of a screening tool that could be considered for large-scale screening for all children born preterm;
2) evaluate parents’ satisfaction and opinion of current neurodevelopmental follow-up for children born preterm;
3) evaluate current neurodevelopmental practices in UK hospitals;
4) evaluate a national implementation of an intervention to promote care for children born preterm in a developing country setting; and
5) ascertain whether there are any early interventions that target the cognitive, motor, and neurobehavioural development of moderate to late preterm children.
In this presentation, I will share some results from the above five study areas and insights on how the impact of Covid-19 became an opportunity to innovate alternate means to provide essential healthcare services for children born preterm through a virtual platform. My study employs a mixed-method approach involving in-depth interviews, surveys, systematic review, and quantitative analysis.