Underweight infants at risk as teens: study
CHICAGO – Children born underweight but not disabled are still more likely to have physical and mental problems as teen-agers, researchers said on Monday.
Lower scores on tests of intelligence, memory, learning and motor skills were found to be more likely among 16 year olds who weighed less than 4.4 pounds (2,000 grams) at birth but were otherwise free of disabilities, the study said.
Low birth weight is a known risk factor for mental retardation and cerebral palsy, but subtler brain injuries inflicted by an undersized head may afflict others born underweight, especially boys, it said
“One possibility is that hormonal differences between the sexes affect acute response to and long-term recovery from brain injury,” wrote study author Agnes Whitaker of Columbia University Medical Center and the New York State Psychiatric Institute.
IQ scores of the children born underweight, while within the average range for their age group, tended to be 4 to 7 points lower than the norm, the study published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine said.
The nearly 500 children in the study were born between 1984 and 1987 at three New Jersey hospitals, and all underwent ultrasound examinations of their brains.