Background There is growing awareness that the majority of nondisabled survivors encounter more “subtle” problems such as academic under achievement, behavioural problems, and deficits in executive functions.
Objective To compare gross motor function,cognitive function, academic competence and behavioural problems at school age between VLBW children and controls.
Methods We enrolled children aged 6-to 8-year-old, who were born with BW ≤1,500 g and have been followed-up at our long-term, follow-up clinic. They were tested for cognitive function and academic achievement using Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-III(WISC-III) and Wide Range Achievement Test (WRAT). Child Behaviour Checklist for emotional/behavioural assessment was completed by the care givers. Gross motor function was assessed using Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS).
Results Thirty VLBW children were assessed at mean age of 7.5 years; 30 children born at term (matched for age, sex, and family income) served as controls. WISC-III scores were comparable between the two groups (99.8 ± 2.4 and 105.8 ± 1.7; p = 0.072 in VLBW and control group, respectively) as well as the WRAT scores. GMFCS-mild dysfunction was found only in 2 children (6.7%) of VLBWgroup. In contrast, VLBW children had more behavioural/emotional problems, especially in attention deficit/hyperactive (26.7% in VLBW group vs.3.3% in controls, p = 0.026).
Conclusions In our cohort study, VLBW children at school age are at higher risk for behavioural/emotional problems, especially in attention deficit compared with children born at term. However, no differences in cognitive, academic, and gross motor function were found.