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J Pediatr Psychol. 2009 May;34(4):406-18. doi: 10.1093/jpepsy/jsn092. Epub 2008 Sep 15.

The risk for impaired learning-related abilities in childhood and educational attainment among adults born near-term.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Queens College, New York, NY, USA.



To examine whether near-term births (NTB) and small-for-gestational-age (SGA) infants are at high risk for childhood learning-related problems and poor adult educational attainment, and whether poverty amplifies the adverse effects of NTB and SGA on those outcomes.


A randomly selected birth cohort (n = 1,619) was followed into adulthood. IQ and learning abilities were measured in childhood and educational attainment was measured in adulthood.


NTB (n = 226) and SGA (n = 154) were associated with lower educational attainment mediated through learning-related abilities at age 7. Childhood poverty moderated the impact of NTB on educational attainment both directly and mediated through lower learning-related abilities. Poverty did not moderate the effect of SGA.


Poorer learning-related outcomes and educational attainment were not limited to children born very (<32 weeks) or extremely (<28 weeks) preterm, especially among those living in poverty. Targeted interventions such as remedial learning during childhood among NTB in poor families may yield higher educational attainment.

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