Neurodevelopmental profile of children of a high-risk neonatal program: A follow-up study from Saudi Arabia

Abstract. Introduction: Preterm infants are at increased risk for neurodevelopmental deficits. These deficits may be alleviated with early intervention. There has been no study to assess neurodevelopment of high risk neonates in Saudi Arabia. Objective: To assess the neurodevelopmental features of preterm (≤29 weeks or ≤1.25 kg) infants who were admitted over a two-year period following birth at a tertiary care neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Methods: This study used a pool of standardized psychometric scales: Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales, Bayley Scales of Infant Development, and Stanford-Binet Intelligence Test. Follow-up assessments were applied to examine 168 infants at 18 months; 96 of them were re-evaluated at 3 years. Results: Major neurodevelopmental abnormalities were present in 26 (15.50%) and 11 (11.46%) children, at 18 months and 3 years, respectively. The two scales: Bayley vs. Vineland at 18 months, and the two scales: Stanford-Binet vs. Vineland at 3 years were correlated significantly: χ2 (1, N= 168) = 58.07, P < 0.001; and χ2 (1, N= 96) = 49.45, P < 0.001, respectively. Nevertheless, Bayley scale and Stanford-Binet test were more likely to detect neurodevelopmental impairment among children at 18 months and 3 years, respectively. Conclusions: Infants born at the NICU at King Fahd Medical Center (KFMC), have rates of neurodevelopmental outcomes that are similar to those reported in other studies. This study confirms the need for early developmental screening to detect preterm infants with special needs. Neurodevelopmental outcomes for the cohort managed at KFMC were similar to previously published data on preterm infants elsewhere.

*Corresponding Author: 

Dr. Mohammed M.J. Alqahtani, Associate Professor and Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Neuroscience Center, King Fahd Medical City, PO Box 376624, Riyadh  11335, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Tel.: +966 558 864000; E-mail:,