Prematurity and Respiratory Outcomes Program (PROP) Core Database Protocol

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Accession Number

Study Type
Epidemiology Study

Collection Type
Open BioLINCC Study See bottom of this webpage for request information

Study Period
August 2011 – March 2016

NHLBI Division

Dataset(s) Last Updated
March 5, 2018

Primary Publication URLs


Commercial Use Data Restrictions No

Data Restrictions Based On Area Of Research No


The Prematurity and Respiratory Outcomes Program (PROP) was performed to identify suitable predictors of respiratory outcomes that may serve as surrogate endpoints in future trials of prevention and therapy of respiratory diseases in preterm infants.


Acute and chronic respiratory morbidities are common in premature births, and can pose significant risk to the infant’s health, particularly during the first two years of life. One such condition is bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) where infants require oxygen therapy due to abnormal repair and impaired lung development after acute lung injury. BPD poses a high mortality risk even in infants that survive the initial hospitalization. Regardless of BPD diagnosis, preterm infants frequently return for medical care due to symptoms of post-prematurity respiratory disease (PRD), which includes intermittent or chronic wheezing, cough without cold, poor growth, apnea and cyanosis, and lower respiratory tract infections. Impaired lung function can persist into adulthood, contributing to chronic respiratory diseases including asthma and emphysema.

However, at the time of the PROP study, there were no objective measures to predict which preterm infants will have persistent respiratory problems after discharge from the hospital. Furthermore, improved survival rates of premature infants and the high prevalence of lasting respiratory morbidities highlight the need for more comprehensive strategies to address both short-term and long-term respiratory complications. Thus, the Prematurity and Respiratory Outcomes Program (PROP) was formed to investigate multiple research hypotheses on the molecular mechanisms that contribute to respiratory disease risk of premature neonates over the first year of life. Specifically, PROP investigators hypothesized that in survivors of extreme prematurity to 36 weeks postmenstrual age (PMA), specific biologic, physiologic and clinical data obtained during the initial hospitalization will predict respiratory morbidity between discharge and 1 year corrected age.


Infants less than or equal to seven days old with a gestational age of at least 23 weeks and less than 29 weeks were eligible for inclusion in PROP. Exclusion criteria included unviability, congenital heart disease, structural abnormalities in the upper airway, lungs or chest wall, and other congenital malformations or syndromes that adversely affect life expectancy or cardio-pulmonary development. A total of 835 infants were enrolled.


PROP was a collaboratively developed multicenter prospective cohort study of very preterm infants from birth through the time of discharge from the NICU and up to one year corrected age.

Clinical data included maternal and infant demographics, co-morbidities, and daily infant respiratory, nutritional, and medication data until discharge. These were prospectively collected from birth using medical record review and family interviews. After discharge, phone interviews were conducted with the infant’s main caregiver at 3, 6, 9 and 12 months corrected age to assess domains of respiratory morbidity. At 6 and 12 months corrected age, a survey of environmental respiratory irritant exposures and an assessment for gastroesophageal reflux disease were also completed. A standardized physical exam was performed at 36-40 weeks PMA and again at one year corrected age. The exam focused on anthropometrics, vital signs, and respiratory system signs.

At 34-41 weeks PMA and within one week of anticipated discharge based on physiologic stability, a set of non-invasive respiratory assessments were performed to assess physiologic biomarkers in infants that were not mechanically ventilated or receiving non-invasive positive pressure ventilation. Respiratory inductance plethysmography (RIP) was performed before and after inhaled albuterol to assess potential airway reactivity. During the RIP study, continuous pulse oximetry was performed during quiet sleep in order to analyze oxygen desaturations and apneas. Standardized oxygen requirement challenge tests were performed at about 36 weeks PMA, and at about 40 weeks PMA if the infant was still hospitalized and was not eligible for, or failed, the previous challenge. Failure was defined as SpO2 < 90% for 5 continuous minutes, SpO2 < 80% for 15 seconds, or apnea for >20 seconds at any point in the testing. Infants breathing ambient air or that passed the 36 week challenge test underwent a hypoxia challenge consisting of a 15-minute trial of FiO2 of 0.15. Failure was defined as SpO2 < 85% for 60 consecutive seconds, SpO2 < 80% for 15 seconds, bradycardia, or persistent apnea. Infant pulmonary function testing (iPFT) was also performed on a subset of infants at one year corrected age to evaluate lung growth and respiratory dysfunction.

The primary outcome was respiratory morbidity, as measured by the presence or absence of substantial post-prematurity respiratory disease (PRD) up to one year corrected age. PRD was classified as a positive response in at least one of four morbidity domains during at least two separate parental interviews. The domains were respiratory medications, hospitalizations for cardiopulmonary cause, respiratory symptoms, and home technology dependence (oxygen, ventilator, or CPAP/BiPAP). Mortality from a respiratory cause was also incorporated.



BMC Pediatr. 2015 Apr 10;15:37. doi: 10.1186/s12887-015-0346-3.

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