Identification of gaps in the current knowledge on pulmonary hypertension in extremely preterm infants: A systematic review and meta-analysis

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Pulmonary hypertension complicates the clinical course of extremely preterm infants and is associated with bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD). However, prevalence, risk factors, and outcome of pulmonary hypertension in these infants are insufficiently known. This systematic review and meta-analysis aims to provide an up-to-date overview of available data on prevalence, risk factors, and outcome of pulmonary hypertension and to identify current knowledge gaps.


Medline, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Library databases were searched in July 2017. Two authors reviewed titles/abstracts and full-texts. Eligible studies reported prevalence, patient characteristics or mortality of infants with/without pulmonary hypertension. Studies were excluded if they did not include extremely preterm infants. Only similar study samples (selected infants with BPD or infants both with/without BPD) were compared in the meta-analyses.


Of 1829 unique articles identified, 25 were eligible for inclusion. Pulmonary hypertension was observed in infants with BPD (20%, 95% confidence interval [CI] 14, 25), but also in those without BPD (2%, 95% CI 0, 8). Infants with severe BPD were most at risk of pulmonary hypertension (risk ratio [RR] 2.7, 95% CI 1.7, 4.2). Infants with pulmonary hypertension were more at risk of mortality (RR 4.7, 95% CI 2.7, 8.3).


Pulmonary hypertension occurs in particularly in infants with severe BPD, and increases risk of mortality. Due to selected study populations, heterogeneous pulmonary hypertension-definitions and poorly reported timing of pulmonary hypertension assessments, however, data available in current reports are insufficient to allow accurate assessment of true prevalence, risk factors, and time-related outcome. Prospective studies, with standardised methodology and follow-up are needed to determine these factors.

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