Aim: We aimed to study the effect of prematurity, time of birth and level of birth hospital on morbidity and the use of health care services at age 5.
Methods: This national study included all very-low-birth-weight infants (VLBWI, <32 gestational weeks or birth weight ≤1500 g) born in Finnish level II or III hospitals in 2001–2002 (n = 918), and full-term controls (n = 381). Parental questionnaires and register data were used to compare morbidity, and the use of health care services between VLBWI and full-term controls, and within VLBWI according to the time of birth and birth hospital level.
Results: Cerebral palsy, retinopathy of prematurity, other ophthalmic problems, respiratory infections, asthma or chronic lung disease, and inguinal hernia were overrepresented in VLBWI compared with the controls. VLBWI had more outpatient and inpatient days than the controls. The time of birth and birth hospital level were not associated with the use of services or with prematurity-related morbidity.
Conclusion: Although morbidity and the use of health care services were increased in the surviving VLBWI, the average use of services was relatively small at age 5. In surviving VLBWI, the time of birth and the birth hospital level did not affect morbidity or the use of services.