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General Certificate of Secondary Education performance in very low birthweight infants


Aim: To compare children of very low birth weight with matched controls for their performance in the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE).

Methods: GCSE examination results of 167 children of birth weight ⩽1500 g attending mainstream schools and without clinical disability and 167 individually matched classroom controls were analysed.

Results: In 143 instances, both children of a matched pair were entered for examination in one or more GCSE subjects. The total points score obtained was greater in the comparison group than in the index cases (difference between means 4.45: 95% CI 0.95 to 7.94; p = 0.01). The mean point score per examination subject was also significantly greater in the comparison group than in the index cases (mean of differences 0.43: 95% CI 0.12 to 0.73; p < 0.01).

Conclusions: As the children were closely matched for school and several social variables, factors acting during fetal or early postnatal development of very low birthweight infants probably compromise performance in the GCSE examination to a greater extent than school or childhood social environmental factors.

  • GCSE
  • very low birth weight
  • cognitive function
  • GCSE, General Certificate of Secondary Education
  • IQ, Intelligence Quotient
  • LBW, low birth weight
  • VLBW, very low birth weight
  • WISC, Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children

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