Long-term behavioral sequelae of prematurity

J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1996 Feb;35(2):175-83. doi: 10.1097/00004583-199602000-00011.


Objective: Longitudinal evaluation of the competence and the prevalence of behavior problems in preterm children with serious neonatal complications.

Method: Prospective follow-up of nonhandicapped preterm children who had been hospitalized in a neonatal intensive care unit (n = 177). The follow-up extended from early school age to early adolescence and was conducted with the help of the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) (parent form).

Results: The preterm children had lower scores on the Social and School Competence scales than did controls (n = 276). They also were more likely to attend special schools than were children in the general population. With regard to behavior problems, the preterm children had more social problems. The very preterm children and the children who were small for gestational age (SGA) were the ones who contributed to the significant findings. The children who were appropriate for gestational age did not differ from controls. No differential changes in CBCL ratings were found between the preterm and control children. The stability with regard to internalizing problems, attention problems, and social problems was high among the very preterm children and SGA children.

Conclusion: Very preterm and preterm SGA children are at increased risk of problems in social functioning and functioning at school. These problems persist with age.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Achievement
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / diagnosis
  • Child Behavior Disorders / psychology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Prospective Studies
  • Socialization