Few follow-up studies of children with very low birth weight (VLBW,
<1,500 g) have examined neuropsychological sequelae at later ages or
neonatal risks as predictors of these outcomes. The present study
assessed cognitive skills at mean age 16 years in 48 participants with
<750 g birth weight, 47 with 750–1,499 g birth weight, and 52
term-born controls. Our major objectives were to delineate the
long-term cognitive consequences of VLBW, and to determine if risks for
periventricular brain insults accounted for variations in outcomes.
Analysis revealed poorer outcomes for the <750 g group than for
term-born controls on nearly all measures, with specific impairments in
visual–motor skills, spatial memory, and executive function.
Predictors of outcome for participants with VLBW included lower birth
weight, lower weight for gestational age, and a longer period of oxygen
requirement for chronic lung disease. The longer-term consequences of
VLBW are consistent with expectations based on early brain pathology
and suggest limitations to functional plasticity. (JINS, 2004,