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J Pediatr. 2011 Jul;159(1):79-85. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2010.12.055. Epub 2011 Feb 24.

High incidence of multi-domain disabilities in very preterm children at five years of age.

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  • 1Psychosocial Department, Emma's Children's Hospital/Academic Medical Centre, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



To describe the prevalence and co-occurrence of disabilities and their association with parental education in preterm children and term control subjects.


In a prospective study, preterm children (n=104), born at <30 weeks' gestation or birth weight <1000 g, and term children (n=95) were assessed at corrected age 5 with an intelligence quotient (IQ) test, behavior questionnaires for parents and teachers, and motor and neurologic tests. A disability was defined as results in the mild abnormal range of each test or below. Associations of outcomes with parental education were studied.


Of the preterm children, 75% had at least one disability and 50% more than one, compared with 27% and 8%, respectively, of term control subjects (P<.01). The preterm-term difference in full scale IQ increased from 5 IQ points if parental education was high to 14 IQ points if it was low, favoring the term children in both groups. A similar pattern was found for behavior, but not for motor and neurologic outcome.


Disabilities occur frequently after very preterm birth and tend to aggregate. Neurologic and motor outcomes are mostly influenced by biologic risk, and social risks contribute to cognitive and behavioral outcome.

Copyright © 2011 Mosby, Inc. All rights reserved.

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