Long-term neuropsychological outcomes of very low birth weight: associations with early risks for periventricular brain insults

J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2004 Nov;10(7):987-1004. doi: 10.1017/s1355617704107078.


Few follow-up studies of children with very low birth weight (VLBW, <1,500 g) have examined neuropsychological sequelae at later ages or neonatal risks as predictors of these outcomes. The present study assessed cognitive skills at mean age 16 years in 48 participants with <750 g birth weight, 47 with 750-1,499 g birth weight, and 52 term-born controls. Our major objectives were to delineate the long-term cognitive consequences of VLBW, and to determine if risks for periventricular brain insults accounted for variations in outcomes. Analysis revealed poorer outcomes for the <750 g group than for term-born controls on nearly all measures, with specific impairments in visual-motor skills, spatial memory, and executive function. Predictors of outcome for participants with VLBW included lower birth weight, lower weight for gestational age, and a longer period of oxygen requirement for chronic lung disease. The longer-term consequences of VLBW are consistent with expectations based on early brain pathology and suggest limitations to functional plasticity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Birth Weight / physiology
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Newborn, Diseases / psychology
  • Infant, Very Low Birth Weight / psychology*
  • Intelligence Tests
  • Language Tests
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Risk Assessment
  • Socioeconomic Factors