The association between moderate prematurity and the incidence of adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes was assessed in a cohort of infants born in the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program of Northern California. Data covered 141,321 children born at >30 weeks gestation between Jan 1, 2000 and June 30, 2004, followed through Jan 30, 2005. Decreasing gestational age was associated with increased incidence of cerebral palsy (CP) and developmental delay (DD), even in those born at 34 to 36 weeks gestation. Late preterm infants were >3 times as likely to have CP as term infants. Children born at 34 to 36 weeks were marginally at higher risk of DD and mental retardation but not seizures. [1]

COMMENT. This study demonstrates an increased incidence of CP and DD/MR for children born moderately preterm. Late preterm infants should be examined neurologically and followed through early childhood to exclude or treat associated developmental learning disabilities. The risk of adverse neurodevelopmental delay or CP decreases with increasing gestational age.