Objectives: To estimate the prevalence of 4 categories of infantile cataract in subjects surviving the neonatal period in a US cohort, and to investigate risk factors for isolated infantile cataract. Design: Prospective study of 55908 pregnancies enrolled in the Collaborative Perinatal Project from 1959 to 1965 at 12 university medical centers. Methods: We gathered data on demographic, lifestyle, and prenatal and perinatal obstetrical and postnatal factors using a standardized protocol. Pediatricians and neurologists examined infants at birth, 4 months, 1 year, and 7 years. We used exact logistic regression methods to compare putative risk factors in infants with isolated cataract with those in infants with no history of cataract. Outcome Measures: Infantile cataract as diagnosed using a standardized dilated ophthalmic examination. Results: Infantile cataract occurred in 13.6 per 10 000 infants (95% confidence interval [CI], 10.7-17.1). Isolated infantile cataract occurred 3.8 times as often among infants born at weights at or below 2500 g than among those born at or above 2500 g (95% CI, 1.5-8.6; P<.001), after controlling for a set of covariates; we observed similar results for bilateral isolated cataract (odds ratio= 4.4; 95% CI, 1.2-13.9). No risk factor identified in bivariate analyses was independently associated with the odds of developing isolated unilateral infantile cataract. Conclusions: Infantile cataract is a rare disorder occurring during childhood. Prevalence estimates reported here are within the limits of those from large-cohort studies in economically developed nations. Infants born at weights at or below 2500 g have a 3- to 4-fold increased odds of developing infantile cataract.
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