Eighty-eight premature children with birth weights ≤1500 g were evaluated at ages between 7 and 8 years old to determine their academic status in comparison with those of a matched full-term group. Results showed that a much higher proportion of the premature children required special educational interventions (48%) than either the full-term children (15%) or the New York State public elementary school population (10%). More than half of the premature children who received educational intervention were neurologically impaired or had below normal intelligence. The entire group of premature children differed significantly from the matched full-term group on IQ score and on tests of verbal ability, school achievement, and auditory memory. Lower socioeconomic status children performed significantly less well on each type of these measures and on a measure of attention than children of the higher socioeconomic status group. There was an interaction of prematurity and social class on Full Scale IQ, verbal tests, academic achievement, and attention, with lower socioeconomic status premature children scoring lowest on these measures. The subset of premature children normal in both IQ and neurologic status did not differ significantly from a matched normal full-term group on any cognitive measures other than arithmetic ability, but they continued to have significantly lower academic achievement scores.

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