Severe small size for gestational age and cognitive function: catch-up phenomenon possible

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2012 Aug;207(2):119.e1-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2012.05.026. Epub 2012 Jun 11.


Objective: We sought to compare cognitive functioning in children born with birthweight <3% vs ≥3% for gestational age (GA) between 9 months and kindergarten.

Study design: Nonanomalous singletons from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort were included. Associations between weight for GA and cognitive functioning were examined using a series of confounder-adjusted general linear models.

Results: Of 3633 cohorts, 585 (16%) were <3% for GA. At 9 months, cognitive performance of newborns <3% was about 12 percentile points lower than their normal counterparts (P < .001). By 2 years, however, no significant cognitive differences between these groups were observed (P = .668). Academic performance at preschool age (around 3.5 years) was not different for reading (P = .245) or math (P = .880), nor different at kindergarten age.

Conclusion: Newborns <3% for GA exhibit catch-up cognitive functioning by 2 years, with relatively no decrements in academic functioning observed by kindergarten.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Development*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Educational Measurement
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Small for Gestational Age*
  • Infant, Very Low Birth Weight*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • United States