School level at age 10 was studied in two cohorts of children who had required neonatal intensive care (NIC): cohort 1, children born 1980-1985 (n=310); and cohort 2, children born 1986-1989 (n=245); and two control groups. More than 80% of all NIC children of both cohorts attended the appropriate mainstream grade 3 or 4; 12.9% of cohort 1 and 6.8% of cohort 2 were in mainstream grade 2. Six per cent of both cohorts received special education. Among very preterm children (23-31 gestational weeks), 73.5% of cohort 1 and 80.3% of cohort 2 attended grades 3 and 4, while 22.9% and 12.1%, respectively, were in grade 2. Assistance (remedial teaching, personal assistant or special teaching group) was given to 42.4% of cohort 1 in the mainstream (grades 2, 3 and 4) and to 38.2% of cohort 2 in the mainstream. In cohort 2, more very preterm girls than matched controls received assistance (p<0.05); no corresponding difference was found in very preterm boys. Most children with congenital malformations received assistance in mainstream education or received special education.
Conclusion: Most NIC children are in mainstream school classes at age 10. Twelve to 23% of very preterm children are 1 y behind. Many NIC children in the school mainstream need assistance at school, but the proportion of children in mainstream education increases markedly with time.