Association of birthweight and head circumference at birth to cognitive performance in 9- to 10-year-old children in South India: prospective birth cohort study

Pediatr Res. 2010 Apr;67(4):424-9. doi: 10.1203/PDR.0b013e3181d00b45.


To examine whether birthweight and head circumference at birth are associated with childhood cognitive ability in South India, cognitive function was assessed using three core tests from the Kaufman Assessment Battery for children and additional tests measuring long-term retrieval/storage, attention and concentration, and visuospatial and verbal abilities among 505 full-term born children (mean age 9.7 y). In multiple linear regression adjusted for age, sex, gestation, socioeconomic status, parent's education, maternal age, parity, body mass index, height, rural/urban residence, and time of testing, Atlantis score (learning ability/long-term storage and retrieval) rose by 0.1 SD per SD increase in newborn weight and head circumference, respectively (p < 0.05 for all), and Kohs' block design score (visuospatial ability) increased by 0.1 SD per SD increase in birthweight (p < 0.05). The associations were reduced after further adjustment for current head circumference. There were no associations of birthweight and/or head circumference with measures of short-term memory, fluid reasoning, verbal abilities, and attention and concentration. In conclusion, higher birthweight and larger head circumference at birth are associated with better childhood cognitive ability. The effect may be specific to learning, long-term storage and retrieval, and visuospatial abilities, but this requires confirmation by further research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Birth Weight*
  • Child
  • Head*
  • Humans
  • India
  • Prospective Studies