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In August 2017, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) published a guideline entitled ‘Developmental follow-up of children and young people born preterm’.1 The 668-page guideline, with similar length in appendices, describes the risks of developmental problems, and the assessments and support recommended for children and young people born before 37+0 weeks’ gestation. The Guideline Committee included paediatric and neonatal clinicians, therapists, psychologists, researchers in neonatology and two lay members.
Extensive research has been conducted in the UK on outcomes of prematurity through the EPICure studies,2 and several individual units, regions and networks have developed local guidelines.3 However, there has been no previous standardised guideline on developmental follow-up for these babies. In 2009, the 2-year assessment for those born before 30+0 weeks’ gestation was added to the toolkit in neonatology from the Department of Health,4 and is now in the National Neonatal Audit Programme as a standard of care for the management of children, as well as a measure of perinatal and neonatal outcomes.5 However, there is still wide variation in the provision of the 2-year assessment for premature babies throughout the UK,6 with partial data available for just 60% of these babies.5
This NICE guideline on developmental follow-up of the premature baby is welcome, as there is an urgent need for an adequately funded, equipped, staffed and effective surveillance service for this vulnerable population.
Key issues that the guideline addresses
Information and support to be given to parents.
Information about the risk and prevalence of multiple developmental problems (see box 1), and reassurance that the majority of children and young people born preterm have a good outcome and quality of life.
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