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South African Journal of Child Health

On-line version ISSN 1999-7671
Print version ISSN 1994-3032


MULLER, S J; ZAR, H J  and  TOOKE, L. Illness episodes in a cohort of preterm infants in their first year of life. S. Afr. j. child health [online]. 2021, vol.15, n.1, pp.44-49. ISSN 1999-7671.

BACKGROUND: There are limited data available regarding the illness episodes and hospital admissions of preterm infants after initial discharge in low- and middle-income countriesOBJECTIVE: To prospectively follow a cohort of HIV-unexposed preterm infants (29 - 34 weeks) and describe their illness episodes, admissions and associated risk factors over a one-year periodMETHODS: The study was nested in a parent study evaluating the efficacy of a monoclonal antibody against respiratory syncytial virus from January 2017 to March 2017, comprising 53 infants enrolled from two government neonatal nurseries in Cape Town, South Africa. Descriptive data were collected regarding perinatal history and socioeconomic factors of the infants' households. All infants received careful follow-up. Logistic regression was performed to assess the association between hospitalisation and socioeconomic factorsRESULTS: All 53 infants who were recruited were followed up over one year. There were 436 illness episodes, of which 31 were hospital admissions. One infant died at home. The most common illnesses were respiratory (53%) and dermatological (17%) in nature. Lower respiratory tract infections (LRTIs) accounted for 71% of all hospital admissions. There were no significant associations between socioeconomic subgroups when comparing illness episodes or hospital admissionsCONCLUSION: This study is one of the few to record all illness episodes and not solely admissions over a one-year period for HIV-unexposed infants. There are high rates of intercurrent respiratory infection and hospitalisation of preterm infants in their first year of life. Public health interventions to reduce the risk of LRTI must be strengthened. Larger studies need to be done to be able to report on the associations with socioeconomic determinants in developing countries

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