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PLoS One. 2016 May 17;11(5):e0155157. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0155157. eCollection 2016.

Preterm Birth, Age at School Entry and Long Term Educational Achievement.

Author information

Neonatal Unit, North Bristol NHS Trust, Bristol, United Kingdom.
Centre for Child and Adolescent Health, University of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom.



To investigate if the detrimental impact of year of entering education in preterm infants persists into adolescence.


Preterm infants are often enrolled in school a year earlier than would be expected if this decision is based on their actual date of birth rather than their due date. Initially these infants appear to do disproportionately worse than those who do not 'skip' a year. However, it is unclear if this effect remains as the infants grow, to have an important effect on long term achievements in education.


A cohort study, drawn from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). The exposure measurement was gestational age (defined as preterm (<37 weeks gestation) or term (37-42 weeks)). The primary outcome was a low score at the Key Stage 4 (KS4) educational assessment or receiving special educational needs support (both at age 16). We derived conditional regression models matching preterm to term infants on their date of birth (DOB), their expected date of delivery (EDD), or their expected date of delivery and year of school entry.


After matching for DOB, preterm infants had an increased odds of SEN (OR 1.57 (1.33-1.86)) and the association remained after adjusting for potential confounders (OR 1.39 (1.14-1.68)). The association remained in the analysis matching for EDD (fully adjusted OR 1.43 (1.17-1.74)) but attenuated after restricting to those infants who were enrolled in school in the same year as the control infants (fully adjusted OR 1.21 (0.97-1.52)). There was less evidence for an impact of prematurity on the KS4 score (Matched for DOB; OR 1.10 (0.91 to 1.34), matched for EDD OR 1.17 (0.96 to 1.42) and EDD and same year of schooling, OR 1.00 (0.80 to 1.26)).


This modifiable effect of going to school a year earlier than predicted by their due date appears to have measurable consequences for ex-preterm infants in adolescence and is likely to limit adulthood opportunities.

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