Very low birth weight children: behavior problems and school difficulty in a national sample

J Pediatr. 1990 Nov;117(5):687-93. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3476(05)83322-0.


We addressed three questions concerning the behavioral and academic status of low and very low birth weight infants through a secondary analysis of the 1981 National Health Interview Survey--Child Health Supplement: (1) in children born with very low birth weight, what is the risk of behavior problems and school difficulty compared with that in heavier low birth weight and normal birth weight children? (2) What are the correlates of school difficulty? (3) Are behavior problems associated with school difficulty when variables are controlled for these correlates? The analysis revealed that 34% of very low birth weight children could be characterized as having school difficulty, compared with 20% and 14% of the other groups, respectively, and that they were more likely to have higher scores on the hyperactive subscale of the Behavior Problems Index. Although a broad array of sociodemographic factors correlated with school difficulty, very low birth weight and hyperactivity scores contributed independently to the risk of academic problems. We conclude that very low birth weight infants are at risk of having school problems that are in part associated with hyperactive behavior.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Birth Weight
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Hyperkinesis / epidemiology
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Learning Disabilities / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States