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Study examines relationship between low birth weight and psychiatric problems in children
Date:9/1/2008

Low-birth-weight children appear to be at higher risk for psychiatric disturbances from childhood through high school than normal-birth-weight children, according to a report in the September issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. In addition, low-birth-weight children from urban communities may be more likely to have attention problems than suburban low-birth-weight children.

"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separated into three categories: externalizing, including delinquent and aggressive behavior; internalizing, including withdrawn behavior and anxiety/depression; and attention, including characteristic symptoms of ADHD such as not being able to pay attention for long or difficulty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,
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Contact: Andy Henion
517-355-3294
JAMA and Archives Journals
Source:Eurekalert

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