Newborns of low birth weight who are diagnosed with certain brain injuries may be at significantly increased risk for psychiatric problems by the time they reach school age, a study shows. About one in five (22%) of an entire group of low birth weight infants studied had at least one psychiatric disorder by age 6 years, the most common being ADHD -- attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder. But those diagnosed with brain injuries on ultrasound scans were at four times greater risk for having at least one psychiatric disorder by 6 years of age.
The children's general intellectual functioning was close to the national average, the report states. Along with ADHD, disorders observed with greater frequency in the brain-injured 6 year olds included separation anxiety, disruptive behavior disorder, oppositional disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and bed-wetting. Boys were more likely than girls to have any disorder An estimated 6.5% of children who will become of school age in the United States in 1997 were low birth weight infants.
Archives of General Psychiatry September 1997;54:847-856