The purpose of this prospective longitudinal study was to examine neurocognitive and school performance outcomes of low birth weight infants with reference to neonatal morbidity and socioeconomic status. We further evaluated the cognition and school performance based on their neurologic status at the time of assessment.


One hundred eighty-eight children (39 healthy full-term and 149 preterm infants) were classified into 4 subgroups based on their neonatal medical status: healthy, sick (without neurologic complications), small for gestational age, and neurologically compromised infants. Neurologic status was classified as normal, suspect, or abnormal at hospital discharge, 18 months, 30 months, 4 years, and 8 years of age. Socioeconomic status, cognitive, and school performances were assessed.


Neurologically, both full-term and healthy preterm groups did well during the 8-year period. There were significant fluctuations between suspect and abnormal neurologic classifications among the 3 preterm groups with neonatal complications. Preterms with neurologic abnormality during the neonatal period did the poorest with 45% of the group remaining abnormal at 8 years of age. Children who were neurologically normal had higher cognitive scores at ages 4 and 8 than those categorized as suspect or abnormal. Preterm infants with neurologic abnormality required significantly more academic resources in the school. Reading and math achievement scores were the lowest for the preterm groups classified as neurologically suspect or abnormal.


Neonatal morbidities exert a significant impact in neurologic outcomes among preterm children during the 8 years of assessment. Compromised neurologic status adversely affects cognitive and school performances. Neonatal medical status is an important variable indicating neurocognitive and school performance outcomes in low birth weight infants.

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