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Very Low Birth Weight May Affect Adult Memory, IQ

TUESDAY, Dec. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Adults who had a very low birth weight are more likely to have memory and attention problems than those who had a low to normal birth weight, a new study says.

It included 103 adults who had a very low birth weight (less than 3.3 pounds) and 105 adults who weighed more than that at birth. The participants, aged 21 to 30, completed tests that assessed their thinking skills, including vocabulary, ability to understand words, memory and IQ.

Adults with a very low birth weight scored lower or performed less quickly on tests of general intelligence, executive functioning, attention and visual memory, compared to those with low to normal birth weights, the Finnish researchers said.

For example, participants with a very low birth weight scored an average 8.4 points lower on IQ tests.

The study also found that adults with a very low birth weight were more likely to have received remedial education while in school, but their average school grades and their number of years of education achieved were the same as those with low to normal birth weight.

The study appears in the Dec. 6 print issue of the journal Neurology.

"While we know babies born severely preterm generally achieve lower cognitive test scores, this is one of the first studies to look at how severely low birth weight impacts executive functioning, such as attention and visual memory, when these babies become young adults," study author Katri Raikkonen, a professor at the University of Helsinki, said in a journal news release.

More information

The March of Dimes has more about low birth weight.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Neurology, news release, Dec. 5, 2011

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