Outcome studies of low birth weight infants published in the last decade: a metaanalysis

J Pediatr. 1989 Oct;115(4):515-20. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3476(89)80273-2.


We conducted a metaanalysis and methods review of 80 studies, published in the last decade, that explored the outcome of low birth weight infants; 27% involved infants whose birth weights were less than or equal to 2500 gm (low birth weight), 44% less than or equal to 1500 gm (very low birth weight), and 29% less than or equal to 1000 gm (extremely low birth weight). Problems found in these studies were grouped into three categories: subject and methods issues, environmental factors, and outcome measurement. The combined average intelligence quotient/developmental quotient (IQ/DQ) of all low birth weight groups was 97.77 (SD 6.19); for control subjects the mean IQ/DQ was 103.78 (SD 8.16). This difference was statistically significant but perhaps not clinically significant. No differences in mean IQ/DQ scores were found among the low birth weight, very low birth weight, and extremely low birth weight subgroups. Statistically significant differences among all groups and control subjects were found when categoric data were analyzed, as were differences among the three subgroups; however, the variety of outcome criteria makes interpretation of the categoric analyses difficult.

MeSH terms

  • Environment
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight / psychology*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intelligence*
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic
  • Research Design / standards
  • Social Class