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22-09-2016 | Uitgave 4/2017

Quality of Life Research 4/2017

Neonatal treatment philosophy in Dutch and German NICUs: health-related quality of life in adulthood of VP/VLBW infants

Quality of Life Research > Uitgave 4/2017
Linda D. Breeman, Sylvia van der Pal, Gijsbert H. W. Verrips, Nicole Baumann, Peter Bartmann, Dieter Wolke
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The online version of this article (doi:10.​1007/​s11136-016-1410-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



Although survival after very preterm birth (VP)/very low birth weight (VLBW) has improved, a significant number of VP/VLBW individuals develop physical and cognitive problems during their life course that may affect their health-related quality of life (HRQoL). We compared HRQoL in VP/VLBW cohorts from two countries: The Netherlands (n = 314) versus Germany (n = 260) and examined whether different neonatal treatment and rates of disability affect HRQoL in adulthood.


To analyse whether cohorts differed in adult HRQoL, linear regression analyses were performed for three HRQoL outcomes assessed with the Health Utilities Index 3 (HUI3), the London Handicap Scale (LHS), and the WHO Quality of Life instrument (WHOQOL-BREF). Stepwise hierarchical linear regression was used to test whether neonatal physical health and treatment, social environment, and intelligence (IQ) were related to VP/VLBW adults’ HRQoL and cohort differences.


Dutch VP/VLBW adults reported a significantly higher HRQoL on all three general HRQoL measures than German VP/VLBW adults (HUI3: .86 vs .83, p = .036; LHS: .93 vs. .90, p = .018; WHOQOL-BREF: 82.8 vs. 78.3, p < .001). Main predictor of cohort differences in all three HRQoL measures was adult IQ (p < .001).


Lower HRQoL in German versus Dutch adults was related to more cognitive impairment in German adults. Due to different policies, German VP/VLBW infants received more intensive treatment that may have affected their cognitive development. Our findings stress the importance of examining effects of different neonatal treatment policies for VP/VLBW adults’ life.

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