Objective: To assess separate and joint effects of low socioeconomic status (SES) and moderate prematurity on preschool developmental delay.
Study design: Prospective cohort study with a community-based sample of preterm- and term-born children (Longitudinal Preterm Outcome Project). We assessed SES on the basis of education, occupation, and family income. The Ages and Stages Questionnaire was used to assess developmental delay at age 4 years. We determined scores for overall development, and domains fine motor, gross motor, communication, problem-solving, and personal-social of 926 moderately preterm-born (MP) (32-36 weeks gestation) and 544 term-born children. In multivariable logistic regression analyses, we used standardized values for SES and gestational age (GA).
Results: Prevalence rates for overall developmental delay were 12.5%, 7.8%, and 5.6% in MP children with low, intermediate, and high SES, respectively, and 7.2%, 4.0%, and 2.8% in term-born children, respectively. The risk for overall developmental delay increased more with decreasing SES than with decreasing GA, but the difference was not statistically significant: OR (95% CI) for a 1 standard deviation decrease were: 1.62 (1.30-2.03) and 1.34 (1.05-1.69), respectively, after adjustment for sex, number of siblings, and maternal age. No interaction was found except for communication, showing that effects of SES and GA are mostly multiplicative.
Conclusions: Low SES and moderate prematurity are separate risk factors with multiplicative effects on developmental delay. The double jeopardy of MP children with low SES needs special attention in pediatric care.
Keywords: ASQ; Ages and Stages Questionnaire; GA; Gestational age; Lollipop; Longitudinal Preterm Outcome Project; MP; Moderately preterm-born; PCH; Preventive child healthcare; SES; Socioeconomic status.
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