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

Maureen Kessenich, MA


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.


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.
Post as: