Late Preterm and Early Term Birth are Associated with Poorer School Performance at Age 5 Years

Abstract

Background and aims: Some studies have observed poorer cognitive development in children born late preterm (34-36 weeks gestation) and early term (37-38 weeks gestation). Few studies have measured school performance in these children. We compared school performance in children born at full term (39-41 weeks gestation) with those born early term, late preterm and moderately/very preterm (< 34 weeks gestation).

Methods: We analysed data on 7,655 children from the Millennium Cohort Study who were attending school in England in 2006. School performance was measured using the Foundation Stage Profile (FSP), a statutory assessment by teachers at the end of the child's first school year (age 5). The FSP comprises 13 assessment scales (scored from 0-9). Children who achieve an average of 6 points per scale and at least 6 in certain scales are classified as “reaching a good level of overall achievement”.

Results: 51% of full term children had not reached a good level of overall achievement; this proportion increased with prematurity (55% in early term, 59% in late preterm, 64% in moderately/very preterm children). Compared with full term children, there were significantly elevated odds even in late preterm (adjusted OR 1.4, 95% CI: 1.1, 1.7) and early term (adjusted OR 1.2, 95% 1.0, 1.3) children. Early term birth accounted for a similar population attributable fraction (3%) as for all the preterm groups combined (gestation 23-36 weeks) (3%).

Conclusions: Late preterm and early term birth are associated with an elevated risk of poorer school performance at age 5.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Quigley, M., Poulsen, G., Boyle, E. et al. Late Preterm and Early Term Birth are Associated with Poorer School Performance at Age 5 Years. Pediatr Res 70, 21 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1038/pr.2011.246

Download citation