Long term follow-up study of preterm born children: How neuropsychological outcome at the age of 9 predicts educational and occupational outcome as well as psychological welfare at the age of 30?


  • Saija Valle Helsingin yliopisto
  • Laura Hokkanen University of Helsinki


long-term follow-up, preterm, low birth weight, neuropsychological, cognition, educational, occupational


Objective: In this prospective long-term follow-up study, preterm born infants were followed into adulthood. We examined the effects of preterm birth on neuropsychological outcome at the age of 9 and further survey how preterm birth and the neuropsychological outcome associated with the educational and occupational outcome as well as psychological wellbeing at the age of 30. The study also sought to inspect if difficulties in neuropsychological outcome at the age of 9 were differently associated with educational and occupational outcome later in life among preterm born children compared to controls. Finally, the study examined whether there is a linear association between gestational weeks and neuropsychological outcome.
Methods: This study is part of a larger follow up study: The Perinatal Adverse events and Special Trends In Cognitive Trajectory (PLASTICITY). Participants were 88 individuals with birth weight 2000g or less (LBW-group) and 71 controls born 1971-1974 in Kätilöopisto Maternity Hospital, in Helsinki. All participants went through neuropsychological assessment at the age of nine followed by a questionnaire at the age 30 including questions about education, work history, health and possible disabilities.
Results: LBW group had poorer WISC performance in childhood, lower average grades of high school diploma, lower educational status and poorer health status in adulthood compared to controls. Poor test performance in WISC was associated with lower educational but not
occupational status similarly in both groups. There was a weak positive correlation between both the WISC performance, and the average grades of high school diploma, and gestational weeks. However, this correlation vanished in both comparisons with LBW group only.
Conclusions: Overall LBW individuals without grave neurological disability seem to be doing quite well at adulthood and they seem to have overcome early disadvantages related to LBW and possible prematurity. It is however important to clinically follow preterm individuals in childhood to recognize those at risk for suboptimal development later in life.

Kirjoittajien biografiat

Saija Valle, Helsingin yliopisto

HUS lastenneurologia

Laura Hokkanen, University of Helsinki

Department of psychology and logopedics