Birth weight and health and developmental outcomes in US children, 1997-2005

Matern Child Health J. 2011 Oct;15(7):836-44. doi: 10.1007/s10995-009-0538-2.


The primary goal of this study was to assess the association between the full birth weight distribution and prevalence of specific developmental disabilities and related measures of health and special education services utilization in US children. Using data from the 1997-2005 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) Sample Child Core, we identified 87,578 children 3-17 years of age with parent-reported information on birth weight. We estimated the prevalences of DDs (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder [ADHD], autism, cerebral palsy, hearing impairment, learning disability without mental retardation, mental retardation, seizures, stuttering/stammering, and other developmental delay) and several indicators of health services utilization within a range of birth weight categories. We calculated odds ratios adjusted for demographic factors (AOR). We observed trends of decreasing disability/indicator prevalence with increasing birth weight up to a plateau. Although associations were strongest for very low birth weight, children with "normal" birth weights of 2,500-2,999 g were more likely than those with birth weights of 3,500-3,999 g to have mental retardation (AOR 1.9 [95% CI: 1.4-2.6]), cerebral palsy (AOR 2.4 [95% CI: 1.5-3.8]), learning disability without mental retardation (AOR 1.2 [95% CI: 1.1-1.4]), ADHD (AOR 1.2 [95% CI: 1.1-1.3]), and other developmental delay (AOR 1.3 [95% CI: 1.1-1.5]) and to receive special education services (AOR 1.3 [95% CI: 1.2-1.5]). While much research has focused on the health and developmental outcomes of low and very low birth weight children, these findings suggest that additional study of a continuous range of birth weights may be warranted.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Birth Weight / physiology*
  • Child
  • Child Development*
  • Child Welfare* / psychology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Female
  • Health Surveys / methods
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Nervous System Diseases / epidemiology
  • Odds Ratio
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • United States / epidemiology