Retinopathy of prematurity in a cohort of neonates at Groote Schuur Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa

  • Q Keraan
  • C Tinley
  • A Horn
  • T Pollock
  • J Steffen
  • Y Joolay


Background. Severe retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) can cause blindness. Before 2016, resource limitations precluded routine screening for ROP at Groote Schuur Hospital (GSH), Cape Town, South Africa. Previous pilot studies at GSH found no patients with ROP requiring treatment; however, improved preterm infant survival may affect the prevalence.
Objectives. To determine the prevalence and severity of ROP, describe potential risk factors, and assess the feasibility of ROP screening.
Methods. Infants with a birth weight (BW) of <1 251 g or a gestational age (GA) of ≤31 weeks were screened from November 2012 to May 2013.
Results. Three hundred and thirteen ROP examinations were performed in 135 of 191 eligible infants. The mean GA and BW were 30.1 weeks (standard deviation (SD) 1.9) and 1 056 g (SD 172), respectively. ROP was diagnosed in 40 infants (29.6%); 8 (5.9%) had severe ROP and 2 (1.5%) received laser treatment. Infants with ROP had a lower mean GA (29.2 weeks (SD 1.6) v. 30.5 weeks (SD 1.9)) (p<0.002) and a lower mean BW (988 g (SD 181) v. 1 085 g (SD 160)) (p=0.001) than those without ROP. Infants weighing <1 000 g had a 2.5 times higher risk than those with a BW of ≥1 000 g of having ROP (95% confidence interval 1.05 - 5.90; p=0.03). Blood transfusions (p<0.002) and late-onset sepsis (p=0.024) were strongly associated with ROP. Screening was completed in 91.1% (123/135) of the infants.
Conclusions. The prevalence and severity of ROP have increased at GSH. The strong association between ROP, BW and GA suggests that infants with lower BWs and GAs should be prioritised for screening in our resource-limited setting.


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eISSN: 0256-95749
print ISSN: 2078-5135