ESPE Abstracts (2019) 92 RFC9.6

Extra Uterine Growth Restriction (EUGR) in Very Low Birth Weight Infants: Growth Recovery and Neurodevelopment by the Corrected Age of 2 Years Old

Laura Lucaccioni, Marta Arrigoni, Elisa Della Casa, Natascia Bertoncelli, Barbara Predieri, Alberto Berardi, Marisa Pugliese, Fabrizio Ferrari, Lorenzo Iughetti


Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences of the Mother, Children and Adults. University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy


Background: Extra Uterine Growth Restriction (EUGR) represents a serious comorbidity in infants born very low birth weight (VLBW). In fact, failure in postnatal growth and malnutrition at vulnerable ages can interfere with growth recovery and neurodevelopment at older ages.

Hypothesis: Aim of the study was to assess whether and how the postnatal early growth patterns of VLBW may affect later growth, spontaneous motility at three months of corrected age (CA) and neurodevelopment at 2 years CA.

Study Design: Retrospective single-centre study of 547 infants (255M) born VLBW between 2005 and 2015. Each participant underwent: a) anthropometric assessments of weight (W), length (L) and head circumference (HC) at birth, at discharge from the NICU and at 2 years CA; b) Evaluation of Fidgety movements (F) at three months CA; c) Neurodevelopmental assessment at 2 years CA through the Griffith Mental Development Scales.

Results: From the overall population, growth percentiles at discharge were significantly lower than at birth (L P<0.01; W P<0.01; HC P< 0.01). Longitudinal data showed a significant growth restriction between birth (AGA for W:73%; AGA for L:73.2%) and discharge (AGA for W:36%; AGA for L:31.2%). Gestational age, duration of hospitalisation, bronchopulmonary dysplasia and intra ventricular haemorrhage were found to be predictive factors for EUGR at discharge. At 2 years CA, SGA at discharge but not at birth, showed significantly lower stature compared to the AGA ones (p:0.04).

Significant correlation was found between F and L (p:0.04; r:0.12) and HC (P<0.02; r:0.2) at discharge, but not at birth. Moreover, a significant difference was found between F and locomotor outcome at two years CA (P<0.01). W and L at discharge, but not at birth, were significantly related to worse locomotor outcome at two years of CA (respectively, p:0.03, r:0.14; p:0.01, r:0.18). In particular, who was found SGA at discharge, both for W and/or L, had the worse motor outcome compared to the AGA ones (respectively, p:0.04 and p:0.01).

Conclusions: VLBW growth measurements at discharge, but not at birth, are related to poorer growth and neurodevelopment at later ages, especially in children who become SGA. Lower scores in locomotor assessment at two years CA have been observed in infants with anomalies of F, suggesting how spontaneous motility could predict later neurodevelopmental outcomes. Our findings highlight the necessity of a close clinical follow-up of growth patterns during preterm hospitalization aiming to decrease the incidence of EUGR.