Children born small for gestational age are not at special risk for preschool emotion and behaviour problems

Cornforth, Christine M., Thompson, John M.D., Robinson, Elizabeth, Waldie, Karen E., Pryor, Jan E., Clark, Philippa, Becroft, David M.O., Sonuga-Barke, Edmund J.S. and Mitchell, Edwin A. (2012) Children born small for gestational age are not at special risk for preschool emotion and behaviour problems Early Human Development, 88, (7), pp. 479-485. (doi:10.1016/j.earlhumdev.2011.12.001).


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Despite the wealth of literature examining long term outcomes of preterm low birthweight children, few studies have directly assessed the developmental impact of being born full term but small for gestational age (SGA). We aim to determine whether (i) being SGA increases preschool behavioural problems and (ii) other risk factors operate differently in SGA and appropriate for gestational age (AGA) controls. 550 New Zealand European mothers and their 3.5 year old children participated in this study. All children were born at full term (> 37 weeks' gestation) and approximately half were SGA (? sex specific 10th percentile for gestation) the remainder were AGA controls. Extensive data were collected at the child's birth, 1 year and 3.5 years. Behavioural problems were measured when children were 3.5 years, using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). Multiple regression analyses were used to examine the associations between risk factors and behavioural problems; statistical weighting was used for analyses of the total study group. There was no significant difference in behavioural problems between SGA and AGA groups. In the total sample the significant predictors of behavioural problems included: mothers' school leaving age; smoking during pregnancy; maternal alcohol use during pregnancy; and absence of the father. Predictors of behavioural problems were found to be the same for SGA and AGA groups. These results do not support the view that SGA is a risk for behavioural preschool difficulties or that SGA children are sensitised to risks known to be associated with such difficulties in the preschool years.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1016/j.earlhumdev.2011.12.001
ISSNs: 0378-3782 (print)
Related URLs:
Organisations: Clinical Neuroscience
ePrint ID: 340641
Date :
Date Event
July 2012Published
Date Deposited: 27 Jun 2012 10:06
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2017 16:53
Further Information:Google Scholar

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