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Low birth weight babies could face cognitive problems: Study

Low birth weight babies could face more physical, mental and cognitive difficulties as compared to those with normal weight, says a new study.
NEW YORK: Low birth weight babies could face more physical, mental and cognitive difficulties as compared to those with normal weight, says a new study.
Low birth weight has been known to increase the risk of disabilities like cerebral palsy and mental retardation.
However, new research suggests that low birth weight may also contribute to minor difficulties in motor skills and cognitive abilities like thinking, learning and memory, reported the Newswise wire quoting a study published in the October issue of Archives of Paediatrics & Adolescent Medicine journal.
The study also said these problems could last till adolescence but added that enhanced maternal-foetal and neonatal care may help them improve.
Agnes H. Whitaker and colleagues at Columbia University Medical Center and New York State Psychiatric Institute studied 474 non-disabled adolescents who were born at or admitted to one of three New Jersey hospitals between 1984 and 1987 and weighed less than 2,000 grams at birth.
The participants, who had an average age of 16 at the time of assessment for the study, underwent intelligence and motor tests at their homes.
Compared with the standardisation sample, or the large group of teens used to provide a reference point for the assessments, the adolescents with low birth weight had more motor problems.
Their IQ scores were within the normal range, but on an average were significantly lower than the average for their age group.
Male participants, who had injuries to the white matter (nerve tissue) of the brain on neonatal ultrasound and who spent more days on a ventilator as infants, were more likely to have motor difficulties, the researchers said.
Social disadvantages, a lower foetal growth ratio (calculated by dividing birth weight by the median weight for the infant's age) and white matter injury, also predicted lower IQ scores.
But the researchers also noted that enhanced maternal-foetal and neonatal care have the potential to substantially improve cognitive and motor outcomes for non-disabled low birth weight children.

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