Aim: To study the prediction of cognitive development with a group of very low birthweight infants (<1500 g) at 18 months and at 4 years of age.
Methods: Bayley Scales of Infant Development-II Mental Development Indexes (MDI), and Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale (S-B) Composite Scores were studied in a population of 334 children with birthweights <1500 g. Independent variables measured were gestational age, birthweight, gender and parental socio-economic status (SES).
Results: Longer gestation (28 weeks and over) and higher birthweight (1000-1500 g) proved to be advantageous for cognitive ability at both 18 months and 4 years. Other significant advantages were associated with female and higher SES. High correlations were found between MDI and the S-B Composite Score (r = 0.62), and between birthweight and gestation (r = 0.72). When information available at birth was included in forward stepwise regression analyses to predict the S-B Composite at 4 years, the best predictors were MDI at 18 months and SES.
Conclusion: With the measures employed and this population, prediction of cognitive development from early childhood to preschool was possible. This may enable reliable identification of those children at risk for delayed cognitive development who require intervention before starting school.