OBJECTIVE: To determine the association between longitudinal growth measures (height, abstract weight, head circumference, and extent of catch-up growth) and neuropsychological functioning at 7 years in moderately and late preterm children.
METHODS: This study was part of a prospective, community-based cohort study. Data on growth were obtained from records on routine assessments in well-child centers until age 4 years and in a research setting at 7 years. Neuropsychological functioning was assessed at age 7 years. We assessed associations of growth with neuropsychological functioning and determined odds ratios for impaired neuropsychological functioning. All analyses were corrected for maternal education.
RESULTS: We included 234 children. Median gestational age was 34 weeks (P25-75: 33-35 weeks), and mean birth weight was 2.2 kg (+/- 0.5 kg). Short stature at all ages was associated with poorer motor, IQ, and attention scores and led to increased risks of impaired motor skills and low IQ. Lower weight at 1 and 4 years was associated with poorer IQ scores. Increased weight gain between age 4 and 7 years was, however, associated with poorer motor, IQ, and attention scores. Decreased head circumference gain in the first year of life was associated with poorer motor and attention scores and led to an increased risk of impaired motor and attention skills.
CONCLUSIONS: In moderately and late preterm children, poorer growth in the first 7 years is associated with poorer neuropsychological functioning. Regarding height, short stature was also associated with a higher likelihood of clinically relevant impaired neuropsychological functioning.