The Newborn Lung Project
Very low birth weight (VLBW, defined as <1500 grams) occurred in 2% of all US births in 2005, but accounted for over 50% of infant deaths. VLBW leads to substantial need for medical care in Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) and follow-up clinics, and is associated with respiratory, behavioral and neurological long term problems. Happily, a greatly increased survival rate among VLBW children during the last several decades has not led to an increase in adverse outcomes. It is of great interest what neonatal characteristics and interventions are associated with the best outcomes, and how to avoid subtle abnormalities that persist. The Newborn Lung Project collected extensive neonatal data on all 1479 VLBW neonates admitted to Wisconsin NICUs during 2003 and 2004, and followed 709 survivors at age 2 via telephone interview. A control group of 463 normal birth weight children was also followed at age 2. Data include health problems, and assessments of quality of life, daily function and behaviors. The project and data set are unique in including all VLBW survivors in a state during a defined time period. Further follow-up is planned.