Little is known about long-term effects of neonatal intensive care on exercise capacity, physical activity, and fatigue in term borns. We determined these outcomes in 57 young adults, treated for neonatal respiratory failure; 27 of them had congenital diaphragmatic hernia with lung hypoplasia (group 1) and 30 had normal lung development (group 2). Patients in group 2 were age-matched, with similar gestational age and birth weight, and similar neonatal intensive care treatment as patients in group 1. All patients were born before the era of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, nitric oxide administration, and high frequency ventilation. Exercise capacity was measured by cycle ergometry, daily physical activity with an accelerometry-based activity monitor, and fatigue by the fatigue severity scale. Median (range) VO2peakin mL/kg/min was 35.4 (19.6-55.0) in group 1 and 37.6 (15.7-52.7) in group 2. There was a between-group P-value of 0.65 for exercise capacity. Daily activity and fatigue were also similar in both groups. So, residual lung hypoplasia did not play an important role in this cohort. There were no significant associations between exercise capacity and perinatal characteristics. Future studies need to elucidate whether exercise capacity is impaired in patients with more severe lung hypoplasia who nowadays survive.

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Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam