Objective Evaluation of the associations between perinatal morbidity and psychosocial function in 14 year old adolescents with low birth weight.
Methods We studied 65 adolescents with very low birth weight (VLBW: birth weight ⩽1500 g), 59 term small for gestational age (SGA) and 81 term control adolescents. Psychosocial function was assessed using the Children’s Global Assessment Scale (CGAS) and mental health using Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School-Age Children, Achenbach System of Empirically Based Assessment (ASEBA) and ADHD-Rating Scale IV. Perinatal data included birth weight, gestational age, Apgar scores at one and five minutes, days in NICU and presence of periventricular haemorrhage (PVH).
Results In the VLBW group, low birth weight was associated with reduced CGAS score (p<0.05), psychiatric diagnoses and a high ADHD rating scale inattention score (p<0.01). PVH was associated with a high hyperactivity score (p<0.05) and Apgar score at five minutes with a high ASEBA internalizing score (p<0.05). No associations were found between gestational age and psychosocial variables. For adolescents born SGA at term, Apgar score at one minute was associated with a high ASEBA externalizing score (p<0.01). After controlling for sex and socioeconomic status, the CGAS score was predicted by birth weight and length of stay in NICU in the VLBW group and by Apgar score (one minute) in the SGA group (p<0.01).
Conclusions Among VLBW adolescents, the psychosocial function may be more strongly associated with prenatal growth and early neonatal disease than with length of gestation. For adolescents born SGA at term, perinatal stress may affect psychosocial function.
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