The purpose of this systematic literature review was to examine current empirical research on general and respiratory health outcomes in adult survivors of bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD).
We searched seven databases up to the end of November 2010 (MEDLINE, PubMed, EMBASE, PsycINFO, Maternity and Infant Care, Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature, and Web of Knowledge). We independently screened and included only those studies concerning the assessment of outcome measures in adult survivors of BPD. Data on methodologic design and findings were extracted from each included study; in addition, the methodologic quality of each study was assessed using the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme checklist.
Fourteen cohort studies met the review criteria. Of those, a total of eight studies were considered to be of high quality (score 9-12), five of moderate quality (score 5-8), and only one was of low quality (score 0-4). In all studies of adult survivors of BPD, differences were found between the index and control groups, suggesting that many adults survivors of BPD who were born preterm or with very low birth weight had more respiratory symptoms and pulmonary function abnormalities compared with their peers. Five studies concerning radiologic findings reported structural changes persisting into adulthood. Findings from three studies suggested impairment in exercise capacity, although firm conclusions were limited by the small sample size in the studies reviewed.
Compared with adults born at term, adult survivors of BPD have more impairment in general and respiratory health, which does not seem to diminish over time.