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Early developmental intervention programmes post hospital discharge to prevent motor and cognitive impairments in preterm infants

Spittle A, Orton J, Anderson P, Boyd R, Doyle LW
Published Online: 
12 December 2012

Preterm infants (babies born before 37 weeks) are at risk of development problems, including problems with cognitive and motor development. Cognitive development refers to thinking and learning ability, and motor development refers to the way children move, such as sitting, crawling and walking. Early developmental interventions aim to reduce cognitive and motor problems; however, the benefits of these programmes are not clear. A review of 22 trials supports early developmental intervention programmes post discharge from hospital for preterm infants to improve cognitive development in the short to medium term (up to pre-school age). There is evidence that early developmental interventions improve motor outcome during infancy; however, the effect is small. There is little evidence of an effect on long-term cognitive and motor outcomes (up to school age). The early developmental intervention programmes in this review had to commence within the first 12 months of life, focus on the parent-infant relationship and/or infant development and, although they could commence while the baby was still in hospital, they had to have a component that was delivered post-discharge from hospital. The early developmental intervention programmes included in this review are different in content, frequency of intervention and focus of intervention. The variability in the intervention programmes limits the conclusions that can be made about the effectiveness of early developmental interventions.

This record should be cited as: 
Spittle A, Orton J, Anderson P, Boyd R, Doyle LW. Early developmental intervention programmes post-hospital discharge to prevent motor and cognitive impairments in preterm infants. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2012, Issue 12. Art. No.: CD005495. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD005495.pub3
Assessed as up to date: 
1 October 2012