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Growth and development in children born very low birthweight


Objective To examine the relationships between growth (birth to age 2 years) and developmental outcomes in children born with very low birthweight (VLBW).

Design Motor and mental development in children born with VLBW were regressed on anthropometric measurements at birth, 9 months and 2 years using multivariable regression.

Setting The Early Childhood Longitudinal Study—Birth Cohort, a longitudinal cohort, community sample, designed to be representative of children born across the USA.

Patients 950 children born with VLBW (<1500 g).

Main Outcome Measures Motor and cognitive scores on the Bayley Scales at 9 months and 24 months chronological age.

Results A high proportion of children exhibited poor growth, with length-for-age z-scores <−2 (ie, stunting) in 21.3% of children at 9 months (adjusted for prematurity) and 34.2% of children at 2 years. Compared with children having z-scores >−2, children with growth shortfalls in head circumference, length and weight had a higher adjusted OR (aOR) of low Bayley motor scores at 9 months and 2 years (aOR ranging from 1.8 to 3.3, all p<0.05), while low Bayley cognitive scores were predicted by 9-month deficits in length and weight (aOR 2.0 and 2.4, respectively, both p<0.01) and 2-year deficits in length and head circumference (aOR 2.9 and 2.8, both p<0.05).

Conclusion Anthropometric measures of growth were linked to current and future neurodevelopmental outcomes in children born with VLBW. While careful length measures may be a particularly useful marker, deficits in all anthropometric measures were risk factors for developmental delays.

  • Growth
  • Neurodevelopment

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