Emotional Problems at Age 6 Associated with Preterm Birth

September 2, 2008

Children who are born at 25 weeks' gestation or less are at elevated risk of having emotional or behavioral problems by the age of 6 years, according to research published in the September issue of Pediatrics.

TUESDAY, Sept. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Children who are born at 25 weeks' gestation or less are at elevated risk of having emotional or behavioral problems by the age of 6 years, according to research published in the September issue of Pediatrics.

Muthanna Samara, Ph.D., of the University of Warwick in Coventry, U.K., and colleagues analyzed data on 308 babies who survived birth at 25 weeks' gestation or less in 1995, and compared reports on behavioral problems from parents and teachers on 241 of the children with those of 148 control children.

Of the extremely preterm children, 19.4 percent had total behavior scores in the clinical range on parent and teacher reports, versus 3.4 percent for the control children, the researchers found. Boys were more susceptible with 23.2 percent in the clinical range versus 15.6 percent of the girls. Hyperactivity affected 30.6 percent of the preterm children versus 8.8 percent of the control children, but poor cognitive functioning did not explain attention, control, peer and emotional problems, the report indicates.

"This large study of outcomes for such an immature population at school age indicates that the odds for clinically relevant, pervasive behavior problems are two to nine times higher for extremely premature children and problems are morefrequent than in more-mature preterm populations," the authors write. "These patterns of behavior difficulties may have important implications for brain imaging research."

AbstractFull Text (subscription or payment may be required)

Copyright © 2008 ScoutNews, LLC. All rights reserved.