School-age consequences of birth weight less than 750 g: a review and update

Dev Neuropsychol. 2000;17(3):289-321. doi: 10.1207/S15326942DN1703_2.


Recent advances in perinatal care have led to the survival of increasing numbers of children born at the lower limits of viability. Children with very low birth weight (LBW; less than 1,500 g, 3 lb 5 oz) have been studied extensively. Findings document poorer outcomes relative to normal birth weight term-born controls in neurologic and health status, cognitive-neuropsychological skills, school performance, academic achievement, and behavior. This report reviews current knowledge regarding LBW children, with special emphasis on outcomes for children with birth weight less than 750 g (1 lb 10 oz). Results from an ongoing longitudinal study suggest a gradient of sequelae, with poorer outcomes in less than 750 g birth weight children compared to both 750 g to 1,499 g birth weight children and term-born controls. Children with less than 750 g birth weight fail to catch up with their peers over time and may even be at risk for age-related increases in sequelae. Outcomes are highly variable but related to neonatal medical complications of prematurity and social risk factors. Further research is needed to understand the etiology and neuropathological basis of sequelae, the long-term developmental implications of LBW, and treatment needs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Family / psychology
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Infant, Very Low Birth Weight*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Quality of Life
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Underachievement*