Individual Study / UA_EPIBEL

UA_EPIBEL - Antwerp University EPIBEL

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Datasets -
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The original aim of the EPIBEL study was to determine mortality and morbidity at discharge from the hospital of a large population-based cohort of infants who were born at <27 weeks’ gestation. The participants were later followed up at 3 and 11-15 years of age to assess childhood outcomes following extremely preterm birth.


Investigators Contacts
  • Jo Lebeer
    University of Antwerp
  • Patrick Van Reempts
    emer. Antwerp University Hospital
  • Piet Vanhaesebrouck
    emer. University Hospital Ghent
  • Isabel De Groote
    University Hospital Ghent
  • Herbert Roeyers
    University of Ghent
  • Liedewij Verhaeghe
    University of Ghent
  • on behalf of the Belgian EPIBEL Research Group (neonatal)
  • on behalf of the Belgian EPIBEL Research Group (2-3 year Follow Up)
  • on behalf of the Belgian EPIBEL Research Group (11-14 year Follow Up)
  • Iemke Sarrechia
    Universiteit Antwerpen


Start Year
End Year
Follow Up Is Ongoing
Year of Most Recent Data Collection
New Data Collection planned?
This study was supported by the Belgian Ministry of Health; the Foundation Marguerite Marie Delacroix; the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO)


Access to external researchers or third parties provided or foreseen.

Data (questionnaire-derived, measured...)
Other access

Supplementary Information

Perinatal data for surviving and non-surviving infants in Belgium [N=441,excluding late abortions, N=84], Follow up data (3y &11-15y) only for the Flemish region.

Study Design

Study design
Number of Data Collection Events
Number of very preterm (VPT) and/or very low birthweight (VLBW) births included in cohort (live & still births)
Supplementary information about number of participants
525 births were recorded. A total of 350 (66.6%) infants died. A total of 222 (42.3%) nonsurviving infants were not admitted to the NICU, 203 (91%) of whom died after the onset of labor or immediately at birth and 19 (9%) infants in the delivery room after active resuscitation. Of the 303 neonates who were admitted to the NICU, 42.2% died before discharge and 175 (57.8%) were still alive at discharge from hospital. Perinatal dataset N=441 (excluding late abortions, N=84) FU at 3y Flemish participants N=77 FU at 11y-15y Flemish participants N= 53

Marker Paper

Vanhaesebrouck P, Allegaert K, Bottu J, Debauche C, Devlieger H, Docx M, François A, Haumont D, Lombet J, Rigo J, Smets K, Vanherreweghe I, Van Overmeire B, Van Reempts P;  Extremely Preterm Infants in Belgium Study Group. (2004). The EPIBEL study: outcomes to discharge from hospital for extremely preterm infants in Belgium. Pediatrics 114: 663–75

PUBMED 15342837
Additional Publications
  • De Groote I, Vanhaesebrouck P, Bruneel E, Dom L, Durein I, Hasaerts D, Laroche S, Oostra A, Ortibus E, Roeyers H, van Mol C; Extremely Preterm Infants in Belgium (EPIBEL) Study Group. (2007) OBSTETRICS AND GYNECOLOGY. 110(4). p.855-864
  • Verhaeghe, Liedewij, Dereu, M., Warreyn, P., De Groote, I., Vanhaesebrouck, P., & Roeyers, H. (2016). Extremely preterm born children at very high risk for developing autism spectrum disorder. CHILD PSYCHIATRY & HUMAN DEVELOPMENT, 47(5), 729–739



During a 2-year period (January 1, 1999, to December 31, 2000), perinatal data of all inborn births with a GA between 22 and 26 completed weeks, ie, up to 26 weeks and 6 days' postmenstrual age, were collected in all perinatal centers in Belgium. During the same period, another 58 extremely preterm (EPT) infants with similar GA were admitted to the 19 centers after postnatal transfer within the first 24 hours. These outborn infants (16% of EPT infants admitted) are not included in additional analysis. Belgium has a population of ∼10 million people and nearly 115 000 annual births. GA was defined as the best obstetric estimate using the information on the record form. A standardized data set of 82 items, including demographic information about the mother and a large number of perinatal data until death, was used. Data were collected on all pregnancies with at least 1 fetus ≥22 weeks' GA showing signs of life at the onset of labor, resulting in a birth, death, or alive and whether admitted or not to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Full data collection was completed for all infants who were admitted to 1 of the 19 Belgian NICUs and for all infants who were still alive at the onset of labor in 14 of the 19 units. In the remaining 5 centers, data on nonadmitted neonates were not collected because of incomplete obstetric data or no access to the obstetric file.
Selection Criteria
  • Belgium
Geographical Area
All of Belgium
VPT/VLBW Group Inclusion Criteria
All inborn births between 22+0 and 26 + 6 completed weeks of gestation.
Control Group Inclusion Criteria
VPT/VLBW Group Exclusion Criteria
Outborn infants (16% of EPT infants admitted) are not included.
Control Group Exclusion Criteria
Data Collection Events
# Name Description Start End
0 Perinatal Assessment Data were collected from hospital records using a standardised form. Data were collected on maternal sociodemographic information, maternal medical and obstetric history, pregnancy course, ... 1999 2000
1 3 year Follow Up At 3 years of age, a subset of participants from the Flanders region (Dutch-speaking) underwent a clinical examination and developmental assessment by a team consisting of a pediatrician or ... 2002 2004
2 11-15 Year Follow Up At 11-15 years of age, participants from the Flemish (Dutch-speaking) Flanders region were assessed. Neurosensory impairment was assessed (motor impairment, cerebral palsy, visual impairment and ... 2011 2014