Early physiotherapy intervention in premature infants.
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Turk J Pediatr 44 (3): 224--229 (2002)

Preterm infants are more likely to have disabling cerebral palsy (CP) than term infants. It has been reported that early therapeutic approaches may be appropriate for infants at risk of neuromotor dysfunction, to minimize the degree of future handicaps. Two hundred and twenty-nine infants born at less than 34 weeks' gestation, with birth weight < or = 2,000 g, cared for in the neonatal intensive care unit of Hacettepe University Hospital between January 1997-June 1999 were included in this study. Of the 229 infants initially included, 39 (17\%) were dropped from the study within the first 12 months' assessment, due to lack of participation from the families. Thirty of the remaining 190 infants were found to have perinatal hypoxia or abnormal neurosonography, and were taken as the group at risk of development of CP, thus receiving early intervention therapy; these are listed as "premature at risk". The study group consisted of 160 infants not considered at risk. These were randomly paired into two groups of 80 infants, one that was given early interventional therapy, and the control group that received no program. Eleven of the 30 infants at risk, 2 of the 80 infants from the intervention group, and 4 of the 80 from the control group were diagnosed as having CP within the first six months of life. There was no difference in the age of loss or acquisition of reflexes and general abilities between the intervention and control groups. There was no difference in the prevalence of CP between the intervention and control groups. In conclusion this study showed no effect of early intervention in premature babies without risk of CP other than prematurity.
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