Neonatal neurobehavior associated with developmental changes from age 2 to 3 in very preterm infants.

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DOI: 10.1016/j.earlhumdev.2024.106039; PMCID: PMC11179958


OBJECTIVE: Understand how high-risk infants' development changes over time. Examine whether NICU Network Neurobehavioral Scale (NNNS) profiles are associated with decrements in developmental outcomes between ages 2 and 3 years in infants born very preterm.

STUDY DESIGN: The Neonatal Outcomes for Very preterm Infants (NOVI) cohort is a multisite prospective study of 704 preterm infants bornweeks' gestation across nine university and VON affiliated NICUs. Data included infant neurobehavior measured by NNNS profiles at NICU discharge and the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development (BSID-III) at ages 2 and 3 years. Generalized estimating equations tested associations between NNNS profiles and BSID-III composite score changes between ages 2 and 3 years.

RESULTS: The final study sample included 433 infants with mean gestational age of 27 weeks at birth. Infants with dysregulated NNNS profiles were more likely to have decreases in BSID-III Cognitive (OR = 2.66) and Language scores (OR = 2.53) from age 2 to 3 years compared to infants with more well-regulated neurobehavioral NNNS profiles. Further, infants with more well-regulated NNNS profiles were more likely to have increases in BSID-III Cognitive scores (OR = 2.03), rather than no change, compared to infants with dysregulated NNNS profiles.

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: Prior to NICU discharge, NNNS neurobehavioral profiles identified infants at increased risk for developing later language and cognitive challenges. Findings suggests that neonatal neurobehavior provides a unique, clinically significant contribution to the evaluation of very preterm infants to inform treatment planning for the most vulnerable.

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Early human development



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MeSH Keywords

Humans; Male; Female; Child, Preschool; Infant, Newborn; Child Development; Infant, Extremely Premature; Infant Behavior; Infant, Premature; Developmental Disabilities


Infant development; Neurodevelopment; Premature infant

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