Babies born at a very low birth weight are more likely to have memory and attention problems when they become adults than babies born at a low to normal weight, according to a study published in the latest issue Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of 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 attention and visual memory, when these babies become young adults,” said study author professor Katri Räikkönen of the University of Helsinki in Finland.
The study found that adults with very low birth weight scored lower or performed slower in general intelligence and memory memory compared to the adults born at a low to normal weight. For example, those with a very low birth weight scored an average 8.4 points lower on an IQ test.
Researchers also found those with very low birth weight were more likely to have received remedial education while in school, but there were no differences in their self-reported academic performance.
“Interestingly, average school grades and the number of years of education completed were not affected by low birth weight in our study,” said Räikkönen.