Black race affords some protection from retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), but more ROP was previously found in another darkly pigmented race, the Alaskan natives.
From fall 1989 through summer 2003, all Alaskan infants with a birth weight of 1500 g or less were examined, documenting mother’s stated race, prenatal care, and neonatal intensive care unit course.
Retinopathy of prematurity was classified as to predefined threshold for peripheral ablative treatment (region of avascular retina and fibrovascular ridge and vessel tortuosity) in 873 infants. Threshold ROP was more prevalent in Alaskan natives (24.9%) and Asians (15.9%) (10% overall), with no significant difference between Alaskan natives and Asians (P = .24). Alaskan native males had more threshold ROP (69%) compared with non–Alaskan native males (51%). Compared with threshold nonnatives, Alaskan native threshold infants had greater birth weights (829 ± 222 vs 704 ± 186 g), required less time on ventilation (46 ± 22 vs 70 ± 75 days), and progressed to treatment at a younger age (35.5 ± 2.2 vs 36.2 ± 2.6 weeks’ gestational age) (data are given as mean ± SD).
In this limited study, we find increased risk of threshold ROP in 2 northern Pacific races. Threshold Alaskan natives had similar or better prenatal and neonatal intensive care unit variables than did threshold nonnatives; however, Alaskan native males were still at a greater risk.