Premature infants follow-up programme

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Several research groups are working towards a better understanding of the long-term outcomes for tiny babies well beyond the nursery, including sometimes into adulthood.

Caffeine is used to prevent or treat pauses in breathing in preterm infants. In academic centres around the world 2006 babies participated in a trial of caffeine to determine if caffeine is helpful or harmful in the long-run. Results have been reported from follow-up assessments at 2 and 5 years. We are now reassessing all the children cared for at the Women’s at 11 years of age. It will take us until 2016 to see them all.

The DINO Trial is a National Study designed to improve the development of preterm babies through nutrition. DINO is short for Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) for the Improvement of Neurodevelopmental Outcome in Preterm Infants. The children who participated in this study have all been reassessed at 7 years of age and we are now waiting for the results of those assessments to be analysed.

The BOOST-II trial is a research study aimed at improving the way we treat extremely preterm babies. Many preterm babies need extra oxygen to help them to survive. Choosing the right amount of oxygen is difficult because there are risks associated with both higher and lower oxygen levels. Children have been assessed at two years of age and we are now waiting for the results of those assessments to be analysed and published.

Both dexamethasone or betamethasone, given to women at risk of preterm birth, substantially improve neonatal and child health. There are conflicting reports as to whether dexamethasone is better than betamethasone. This randomised trial will assess this. Children whose mothers participate in this trial will be assessed at two years of age.

The Victorian Infant Collaborative Study (VICS) is a long term study of prematurely born infants throughout their childhood and into adulthood. VICS has been working towards better understanding the extent of long-term health problems that occur in the tiniest (those of birth weight < 1000g) and most premature (those of <28 weeks of gestation) babies born in Victoria.

The Victorian Infant Brain Study (VIBeS) research group looks at brain injury and early brain development in premature and sick infants using state-of-the-art neuroimaging techniques. They also focus on identifying factors that influence brain maturation in sick infants and determine how they are associated with neurobehavioural development.

The aims of this study are to understand the effect of being born between 32 and 36+6 weeks of pregnancy on the baby’s behaviour and responsiveness, and brain development, compared with infants born at 37 weeks or greater, known as “term” babies. The study is looking at the brain characteristics of babies using a technique called magnetic resonance imaging or MRI.

ProPrems Neuro
The aim of this study is to investigate the effects of probiotic organisms, administered daily to very premature infants (born <1500 g and <32 weeks) from shortly after birth, on neurodevelopment and other health outcomes at 2- 4 years of age.