Follow-up studies are essential to our knowledge of outcome in very low birthweight (VLBW) or extremely preterm (EPT) infants because those children have a greater risk for developing neurosensory disabilities and behavioural and educational problems and have decreased probability for an optimal transition into adulthood compared to term controls. Outcome data are of interest not only to healthcare professionals but also to parents, schoolteachers and society. The aim of this review is to describe the follow-up studies of seven populations of VLBW or EPT infants performed in Sweden and published between 1995 and 2009.
The time has come to implement evident data from these Swedish follow-up studies into clinical practice and to perform regular and specific follow-up examinations during childhood for all VLBW and EPT children. These assessments, specially designed for high-risk infants, should consider the potential outcomes for neurological, visual, auditory function and cognitive function as well as behaviour and growth, from birth to school-start.