Premature babies are a special group at risk of persistent brain damage caused by diseases, the most serious of which are cerebral palsy(CP), autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and mental retardation, among others. These conditions may occur concurrently, but appear more often as separate disease syndromes in the same group of at-risk children. Long-term observation of psychomotor development by an interdisciplinary medical team closely cooperating with parents is necessary. It is important to detect the risk of developing these diseases as soon as possible in all development spheres.

Material and methods:
The research was conducted to demonstrate the prognostic value of ‘red flags’ of developmental milestones and the ability to detect early signs of risk of developing CP and ASD in extremely premature babies. In this preliminary study, 42 preterm babies, born after less than 32 weeks pregnancy participated.

The occurrence of ‚red flags‘in the spheres: gross motor, fine motor and cognitive at 9 months was strongly associated with their presence at 24 months. The sensitivity and specificity were: gross motor – 0.91 (95% CI: 0.59, 1.00) and 0.94 (95% CI: 0.79, 0.99); fine motor – 0.83 (95% CI 0.36–1.00) and 1.00 (95% CI: 0.90–1.00); cognitive – 1.00 (0.40, 1.00) and 0.97 (0.86, 1.00). Other spheres had lower sensitivity but high specificity.

The conclusion is that the ‚red flags‘at the 9 months milestones already predict the normal or developmental delay of premature babies, and predict the risk of CP and ASD. Due to the availability and lack of the need for specialized and costly training, it is worth considering their use in everyday life medical practice.

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