Despite the increased survival opportunities for extremely preterm infants, their long-term cognitive outcomes remain poor, with increased incidence of cognitive impairments in childhood and reduced opportunities to attend higher education in young adulthood compared to their term-born peers. Given that a considerable fraction of preterm infants develop cognitive impairments even without apparent sentinel events at birth and cerebral lesions on MRI assessed at term equivalent age, future strategies to improve the outcome may need to address cerebral dysfunction, which cannot be explained by the classical understanding of the injury cascade triggered by hypoxia-ischaemia around birth. Developmental care has been proposed to minimize neurodevelopmental impairments related to preterm birth. However, considerable modes of cares, environmental settings and procedures provided by the developmental care of current style appear to offer little benefit to the sound development of infants. Although it is obvious that advanced life support and neuroprotective treatments fall far short in compensating for the burden of preterm birth, researchers need to make further effort to fill the knowledge gap in the cerebral function of foetuses and newborn infants before establishing evidence-based developmental care. Clinicians need to develop an ability to translate the findings from basic and translational studies incorporating their potential biases and limitations. Care for newborn infants needs to be reassessed, including but not limited to developmental care, in the context that any sensory input and motor reaction of preterm infants may ultimately affect their cognitive functioning.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health