Objective: To assess the cognitive and academic performance of adolescents who were born small for gestational age (SGA) at term.
Methods: A 17-year historical prospective study was done by matching neonatal data of 1758 infants to the results of the medical and intelligence assessment performed at age 17 years at the army draft board medical examination in Israel. The results of children born SGA (weight at term birth below the third percentile) were compared to those of children who were born appropriate for gestational age (AGA).
Results: After adjustment by a multiple linear regression analysis, the mean (+/- standard error of the mean) intelligence test scores were 103.1 +/- 2.9 versus 105.8 +/- 1.5 (P = 0.3) for the males and 100.3 +/- 2.5 versus 104.7 +/- 1.6 (P < .03) for the females. Males born SGA at term were found to have lower educational achievements (having less than 12 years of schooling or attending a vocational school) compared with the AGA group. The odds ratio for this finding after adjustment by a logistic regression analysis was 2.40 (95% confidence interval 1.07-5.39; P < .03). Intranatal events were not found to have an effect on the measured neurodevelopmental outcome.
Conclusion: Infants born SGA at term have an increased risk for lower cognitive performance and schooling achievements than those born AGA; this result seems to be unrelated to their intranatal course.