Academic performance in moderately and late preterm children in the United States: are they catching up?

J Perinatol. 2024 Jun;44(6):819-826. doi: 10.1038/s41372-024-01938-y. Epub 2024 Mar 18.


Objective: To determine whether preterm birth of 32-36 6/7 weeks gestation affected school performance from kindergarten through fifth grade.

Study design: We assessed 14350 term infants and 1195 32-36 6/7 weeks gestation infants followed in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study Kindergarten 2011 cohort for classroom performance in kindergarten-fifth grade. Multivariable regression was performed for comparisons, and data were weighted to be representative of the US population.

Results: Children born 35-36 6/7 weeks gestation had no significant difference in their academic scores or performance, while 32-34 6/7 weeks' children had lower academic scores and teacher performance scores when compared to term children. Children born between 32 and 36 6/7 weeks gestation had higher odds of individualized education plan needs and had learning disability diagnoses compared to term children.

Conclusions: Children born between 32 and 34 6/7 weeks gestation have poor school performance compared to term children. Children born between 32 and 36 6/7 weeks gestation are at risk for learning disabilities and likely benefit from continued support and services to improve achievement throughout school.

MeSH terms

  • Academic Performance* / statistics & numerical data
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Gestational Age*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature*
  • Learning Disabilities* / epidemiology
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • United States