Developmental Outcomes of Premature, Low Birth Weight, and Medically Fragile Infants

Maureen Kessenich, MA

Disclosures

NAINR. 2003;3(3) 

In This Article

Social-Emotional and Behavioral Outcomes

Studies have also indicated a greater incidence of social-emotional and behavior problems associated with prematurity and low birth weight, such as internalizing (eg, depression, anxiety) and externalizing (eg, aggression) problems.[77,86] A meta-analysis conducted by Bhutta et al[24] found that 9 of the 13 studies reviewed (69%) reported a significantly higher incidence of externalizing symptoms, and 9 of 12 studies (75%) documented a significantly higher rate of internalizing problems.

A few studies have reported contradictory findings regarding the prevalence of risk-taking behaviors such as drug and alcohol use, sexual activity, teen pregnancy and truancy in adolescents born prematurely. While Hack et al[26] found lower rates of teen pregnancy and substance abuse, Chilcoat and Breslau[87] documented a higher rate of drug use in premature, low birth weight children—although this was found to be more closely associated with attention deficit disorder rather than birth weight. A third study by Bjerager et al[88] reported no difference in the rates of alcohol and drug use when comparing adults born full term versus those born with very low birth weight.

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