University of Oulu

Silva W, Virtanen E, Kajantie E, Sebert S. Cognitive Function, Mental Health, and Quality of Life in Siblings of Preterm Born Children: Protocol for a Systematic Review, JMIR Res Protoc 2022;11(4):e34987,

Cognitive function, mental health, and quality of life in siblings of preterm born children : protocol for a systematic review

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Author: Silva, Wnurinham1; Virtanen, Eeva2,3; Kajantie, Eero2,4,5,6;
Organizations: 1Center for Life Course Health Research, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Department of Population Health, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), Helsinki, Finland
3Department of Public Health, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
4PEDEGO Research Unit, Medical Research Center, Oulu University Hospital, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
5Department of Clinical and Molecular Medicine, Norwegian University of Science and Tehnology, Trondheim, Norway
6Pediatric Research Centre, Children's Hospital, Helsinki University Hospital and University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.1 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: JMIR Publications, 2022
Publish Date: 2022-09-28


Background: Children and adults born preterm are at increased risk of cognitive impairments, mental health disorders, and poorer quality of life. Epidemiological studies have shown that the impact of preterm birth extends to the immediate family members; however, existing research have focused on parents, and little attention has been given to siblings.

Objective: The aim of the systematic review described in this protocol is to synthesize currently available evidence on the impact of exposure to preterm birth (ie, having a sibling born preterm) on cognition, mental health, and quality of life of term born siblings (index child) of preterm born children, and to critically appraise the evidence.

Methods: This protocol outlines a systematic review designed in accordance with the PRISMA-P (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis Protocols) checklist. We will include all studies that assess outcomes in siblings of children born preterm. Quantitative and qualitative studies will be eligible for the systematic review, and only studies in English will be included. Firstly, search will be conducted electronically on PubMed, Scopus, Embase, Mednar, and databases and, secondly, manually in Google Scholar and reference lists. The search strategy will include keywords and synonyms, Boolean operators, and text words (ie, within title and abstract). The team of reviewers will screen the search results, extract data from eligible studies, and critically appraise the studies. Analysis will involve both descriptive and quantitative approaches. Meta-analysis will be conducted if appropriate.

Results: This systematic review was registered on PROSPERO (International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews) on December 18, 2020, and it is currently in progress. The findings will be synthesized to determine the effect of preterm birth on full-term siblings and the quality of the available evidence.

Conclusions: The evidence derived from this study will shed light on gaps and limitations in the field of preterm birth, more specifically, the effect of preterm birth on full-term siblings. In addition, we hope that understanding the impact of preterm birth on family members will inform targeted interventions and policies for those identified at high risk and how to mitigate health risks.

Trial Registration: PROSPERO International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews CRD42021222887;

International Registered Report Identifier (IRRID): DERR1-10.2196/34987

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Series: JMIR research protocols
ISSN: 1929-0748
ISSN-E: 1929-0748
ISSN-L: 1929-0748
Volume: 11
Issue: 4
Article number: e34987
DOI: 10.2196/34987
Type of Publication: A2 Review article in a scientific journal
Field of Science: 3123 Gynaecology and paediatrics
3141 Health care science
Funding: This research is funded by the University of Oulu Graduate School, and it has received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.
Copyright information: ©Wnurinham Silva, Eeva Virtanen, Eero Kajantie, Sylvain Sebert. Originally published in JMIR Research Protocols (, 14.04.2022. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR Research Protocols, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.