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School performance and behaviour in extremely preterm growth-retarded infants.

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Department of Obstetrics, Academic Medical Centre, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



To describe school performance and behaviour of extremely preterm, growth-retarded infants.


Cohort study at two tertiary care centres. Included were all surviving, singleton infants (N= 127) with fetal growth retardation due to placental insufficiency. All were delivered by caesarean section because of signs of fetal distress before the beginning of labour at a gestational age of 26 to 32 weeks during the years 1984-1989. Main outcome measures were special education, mainstream education below the appropriate age level and behaviour according to attention-deficit hyperactivity criteria at school age (4 1/2-10 1/2 yrs). The children were divided into two subgroups according to age at follow-up (> or =7 1/2 and <7 1/2 yr). A logistic regression analysis was performed with special school or repeating a grade and behavioural disturbance as dependent variables and gestational age, birth weight, sex of the infant, neonatal complications (intra cerebral haemorrhage, respiratory distress syndrome, bronchopulmonary dysplasia or sepsis), age category at follow-up and sociodemographic factors as independent variables.


114 (90%) had a complete follow-up. Special education was found in 14% of the assessed children. More children in the older age group than in the younger age group were placed in special school (20% versus 10%). Behavioural problems were scored in 39% of the assessed children attending mainstream education. Special education was related to neonatal complications (bronchopulmonary dysplasia), behavioural problems to the absence of either parent.


This specific group of growth-retarded children is at serious disadvantage for adequate performance in school, although the incidence of special education and behavioural problems was comparable to other preterm infants. Both special education and behavioural problems were not related to obstetric variables as gestational age and/or birth weight.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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