Psychological development in children born with very low birth weight after severe intrauterine growth retardation: a 10-year follow-up study

Acta Paediatr. 1992 Mar;81(3):197-203. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.1992.tb12203.x.


Children born small for gestational age (SGA) and children having very low birth weight, less than 1500 g, are claimed to be at risk of developmental problems, even when obvious pathology and disability are absent. In this study, sensorimotor and cognitive development of 14 medically healthy, very-low-birth-weight and small-for-gestational-age children were investigated. The children were born at the Karolinska Hospital between 1979 and 1981. At the time of the assessment, the children were aged 8.7-11.2 years. The assessment instruments included the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, a modified version of the Bruininks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency, as well as selected subtests from the Halstead-Reitan Neuropsychological Battery and from the Southern California Tests of Sensory Integration. Information was also obtained from obstetric, neonatal and pediatric records, which included early developmental assessments. As a control group, 14 children were recruited and matched for age, sex and socio-economic background. The very-low-birth-weight-small-for-gestational-age group scored significantly lower on measures of visuospatial ability, non-verbal reasoning, strategy formation and gross-motor coordination. The group differences were largely attributable to the subnormal performance of eight of the very-low-birth-weight-small-for-gestational-age children. These children, who also tended to be born earliest (less than 33 weeks), had a high incidence of behavioral and educational problems. These findings are consistent with the view that the very preterm infant develops a different neurobehavioral organization than a full-term infant. Developmental deficits may become increasingly evident in the early school years.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Female
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / physiopathology
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / psychology*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight / growth & development
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight / psychology*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Small for Gestational Age / growth & development
  • Infant, Small for Gestational Age / psychology*
  • Intelligence / physiology*
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Wechsler Scales