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Pediatrics. 2006 Oct;118(4):1600-6.

Gestational age and birth weight in relation to school performance of 10-year-old children: a follow-up study of children born after 32 completed weeks.

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Department of Obstetrics, Aarhus University Hospital, Skejby Sygehus, 8200 Aarhus N, Denmark.



Children born extremely premature (<28 weeks) or with a very low birth weight (<1500 g) have a poorer school performance than children born at term with a normal birth weight. Much less is known about children of higher gestational ages and birth weights. We studied gestational age after 32 completed weeks and birth weight in relation to the child's school performance at the age of 10 years.


We performed a follow-up study of 5319 children born between January 1990 and June 1992. We got the information on birth weight and gestational age from birth registration forms; when the children were between 9 and 11 years of age, we gathered information about their school performance (reading, spelling, and arithmetic) from questionnaires completed by the parents and the children's primary school teachers.


The association between birth weight and reading, as well as spelling and arithmetic disabilities, showed a graded relationship, with children who weighed <2500 g having the highest risks. Even children who weighed between 3000 and 3499 g had an increased risk of all 3 learning disabilities compared with children who weighed between 3500 and 4000 g. This association persisted after adjustment for potential cofounders and when the analyses were restricted to children born at term (39-40 weeks of gestation), suggesting that the association could not be explained by a low gestational age. Compared with children born at term, reading and spelling difficulties were more often found among children born at gestational age 33 to 36 weeks and 37 to 38 weeks, whereas there was no relation between gestational age and arithmetic difficulties.


Gestational age and birth weight were associated with school performance in the 10-year-old child and the association extended into the reference range of both birth weight and gestational age.

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