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Arch Dis Child. 2012 Feb;97(2):112-7. doi: 10.1136/adc.2011.300131. Epub 2011 Dec 6.

Higher rates of behavioural and emotional problems at preschool age in children born moderately preterm.

Author information

1
Department of Health Sciences, Community and Occupational Medicine, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Antonius Deusinglaan 1, PO Box 196, 9700 AD Groningen, The Netherlands. m.r.potijk01@umcg.nl

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To compare preschool children born moderately preterm (MP; 32-35 weeks' gestation) and children born at term (38-41 weeks' gestation) regarding the occurrence of behavioural and emotional problems, overall, for separate types of problems and by gender.

DESIGN:

Prospective cohort study consisting of a community-based sample of MP and a random sample of term-born children in 13 Preventive Child Healthcare centres throughout the Netherlands.

PATIENTS:

995 MP and 577 term-born children just under age 4 were included.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

Behavioural and emotional problems were measured using the Child Behavior Checklist 1.5-5 years. Seven syndrome scales, internalising, externalising and total problems were determined. Higher scores indicate worse outcomes.

RESULTS:

MP children had higher scores on all syndrome scales, internalising, externalising and total problems than term-born controls. The mean difference on total problems was 4.04 (95% CI 2.08 to 6.00). Prevalence rates of elevated externalising problem scores were highest in boys (10.5%) and internalising problems were highest in girls (9.9%). MP children were at greater risk for somatic complaints (OR 1.92, 95% CI 1.09 to 3.38), internalising (OR 2.40, 95% CI 1.48 to 3.87), externalising (OR 1.69, 95% CI 1.07 to 2.67) and total problems (OR 1.84, 95% CI 1.12 to 3.00).

CONCLUSIONS:

Moderate preterm birth affects all domains of behavioural and emotional problems, particularly for girls. MP children should be targeted for the prevention of mental health problems as they have a great impact on developmental and social competencies at school and in the community.

PMID:
22147746
DOI:
10.1136/adc.2011.300131
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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