Background: Severe retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is associated with adverse outcomes. Relationships between milder ROP and outcomes have not been defined. We hypothesized that children with ROP stage ≤3 who did not receive ophthalmologic intervention would have worse motor, cognitive, and language skills and more vision abnormalities than children without ROP.
Methods: This was a secondary analysis of a randomized trial evaluating the effects of myo-inositol on ROP in the NICHD Neonatal Research Network. Primary outcomes were Bayley Scales of Infant Development composite scores; secondary outcomes included behavioral difficulties and ophthalmologic measures. Outcomes were compared using adjusted linear or modified Poisson models.
Results: Of 506 children, 173 (34%) had no ROP, 262 (52%) had ROP stage ≤3 without intervention, and 71 (14%) had ROP with intervention. There was no difference in motor, cognitive, or language scores between children with ROP stage ≤3 without intervention and children without ROP. Children with ROP stage ≤3 without intervention had a higher rate of strabismus compared to children without ROP (p = 0.040).
Conclusion: Children with ROP stage ≤3 without intervention did not have adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes at 2 years’ corrected age compared to children without ROP but did have an increased incidence of strabismus.
Impact: This study addresses a gap in the literature regarding the relationship between milder forms of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) that regress without intervention and neurodevelopment and vision outcomes. Children with a history of ROP stage ≤3 without intervention have similar neurodevelopmental outcomes at 2 years’ corrected age as children born extremely preterm without a history of ROP and better outcomes than children with a history of ROP with ophthalmologic intervention. Counseling about likely neurodevelopment and vision outcomes for children born extremely preterm with a history of ROP may be tailored based on the severity of ROP.