Developmental Delay in Moderately Preterm-Born Children with Low Socioeconomic Status: Risks Multiply

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Objective To assess separate and joint effects of low socioeconomic status (SES) and moderate prematurity on preschool developmental delay.

Study design Prospective cohort study with a community-based sample of preterm-and term-born children (Longitudinal Preterm Outcome Project). We assessed SES on the basis of education, occupation, and family income. The Ages and Stages Questionnaire was used to assess developmental delay at age 4 years. We determined scores for overall development, and domains fine motor, gross motor, communication, problem-solving, and personal-social of 926 moderately preterm-born (MP) (32-36 weeks gestation) and 544 term-born children. In multivariable logistic regression analyses, we used standardized values for SES and gestational age (GA).

Results Prevalence rates for overall developmental delay were 12.5%, 7.8%, and 5.6% in MP children with low, intermediate, and high SES, respectively, and 7.2%, 4.0%, and 2.8% in term-born children, respectively. The risk for overall developmental delay increased more with decreasing SES than with decreasing GA, but the difference was not statistically significant: OR (95% CI) for a 1 standard deviation decrease were: 1.62 (1.30-2.03) and 1.34 (1.05-1.69), respectively, after adjustment for sex, number of siblings, and maternal age. No interaction was found except for communication, showing that effects of SES and GA are mostly multiplicative.

Conclusions Low SES and moderate prematurity are separate risk factors with multiplicative effects on developmental delay. The double jeopardy of MP children with low SES needs special attention in pediatric care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1289-1295
Number of pages7
JournalThe Journal of Pediatrics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Nov-2013


  • Child, Preschool
  • Developmental Disabilities
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Premature
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Poverty
  • Problem Solving
  • Prospective Studies
  • Questionnaires
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Term Birth

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