To determine the risk for psychiatric disorders among extremely low birth weight (ELBW) survivors in their early to mid-30s and to determine whether those born small for gestational age or those exposed to a full course of antenatal corticosteroids (ACS) were at particularly high risk.


A prospective, longitudinal, population-based cohort of 84 ELBW survivors and 90 normal birth weight (NBW) control participants born in Ontario, Canada from 1977 to 1982 were assessed by interviewers naive to birth weight status using the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview.


ELBW survivors had lower odds of an alcohol or substance use disorder but higher odds of current non–substance-related psychiatric problems (odds ratio [OR] = 2.47; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.19–5.14). Those born ELBW and SGA exhibited the same patterns with larger effects. ACS-exposed ELBW survivors had even higher odds of any current non–substance-related psychiatric disorder (OR = 4.41; 95% CI, 1.65–11.82), particularly generalized anxiety disorder (OR = 3.42; 95% CI, 1.06–11.06), the generalized type of social phobia (OR = 5.80; 95% CI, 1.20–27.99), and the inattentive subtype of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (OR = 11.45; 95% CI, 2.06–63.50).


In their early to mid-30s, ELBW survivors were less likely to have alcohol or substance use disorders but may be at greater risk for other psychiatric problems. Those exposed to ACS were at especially high risk and manifested no reduction in alcohol or substance use disorders. ELBW survivors exposed to ACS may be a special group at risk for psychopathology in adulthood.

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