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Low-Birth Weight Kids at Risk for Mental Problems

A new study finds low-birth-weight children appear to be at higher risk for psychiatric disturbances — from childhood through high school — than normal-birth-weight children.

In addition, low-birth-weight children from urban communities may be more likely to have attention problems than suburban low-birth-weight children.

The report is found in the September issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.

“Advances in neonatal medicine have raised the survivorship of low-birth-weight infants (2,500 grams [about 5.5 pounds] or less), especially very low-birth-weight infants (1,500 grams [about 3.3 pounds] or less) and extremely low-birth-weight infants (1,000 grams [2.2 pounds] or less),” according to background information in the article.

Previous studies have reported that low-birth-weight children appear to have an increased risk of internalizing, externalizing and attention problems.

Kipling M. Bohnert, B.A., and Naomi Breslau, Ph.D., of Michigan State University, East Lansing, examined the long-term association between low-birth-weight and psychiatric problems among 413 children from a socially disadvantaged community in Detroit and 410 children from a middle-class Detroit suburb.

Children’s psychiatric disturbances were rated by mothers and teachers at ages 6, 11 and 17. Psychiatric disturbances were separated into three categories: externalizing, including delinquent and aggressive behavior; internalizing, including withdrawn behavior and anxiety/depression; and attention, including characteristic symptoms of ADHD such as not being able to pay attention for long or difficulty following directions.

Low-birth-weight children were more likely to exhibit externalizing and internalizing problems than normal-birth-weight children in their community.

“An increased risk of attention problems was associated with low birth weight only in the urban community and was greater among very low-birth-weight children (weighing 1,500 grams or less) than heavier low-birth-weight children (weighing 1,501 grams to 2,500 grams),” the authors write.

“In the suburban community, there was no increased risk for attention problems associated with low birth weight. Psychiatric outcomes of low birth weight did not vary across ages of assessments.”

“Attention problems at the start of schooling predict lower academic achievement later, controlling for key factors that contribute to academic test scores, which in turn predicts termination of schooling and curtailed educational attainment,” the authors conclude.

“Attention problems influence academic performance by reducing the time that students devote to class learning and homework assignments and hinder organization and work habits.

“Early interventions to improve attention skills in urban low-birth-weight children might yield better outcomes later.”

Source: American Medical Association (AMA)

Low-Birth Weight Kids at Risk for Mental Problems

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Low-Birth Weight Kids at Risk for Mental Problems. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 17, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2008/09/03/low-birth-weight-kids-at-risk-for-mental-problems/2870.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.