Most low birth weight babies become productive adults

December 01, 2010

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Most survivors of extremely low birth weight grow up to become productive adults, according to a study led by a Michigan State University economist.

Extremely low birth weight is defined as less than about 2.2 pounds. About one in 200 babies is born at that size. But because relatively few survived prior to the 1980s, few studies have examined their adult outcomes.

The study led by MSU's John Goddeeris found that while these survivors were somewhat less productive as adults, on average, than normal-weight subjects, the productivity deficits were not very large. The study, which appears in the journal Pediatrics, measured education and salary levels.

"Our findings suggest that the long-term economic impact of being born at extremely low birth weight is pretty modest for typical survivors," said Goddeeris, professor of economics.

The study is part of ongoing research led by Saroj Saigal at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. Co-researchers include Nigel Paneth at MSU, Michael Boyle and Barbara Stoskopf at McMaster and David Streiner at McMaster and University of Toronto. The team followed a cohort of 149 extremely low birth weight adults and 133 normal birth weight adults born in Canada around 1980.

Survival rates for extremely low birth weight babies have improved markedly. In the United States, mortality rates for babies born between about 1.1 pounds and 2.2 pounds decreased from 58 percent in 1983 to 31 percent in 2005. Researchers believe this is due to advances in neonatal care.

Saving infants who are extremely small or extremely preterm is very expensive, the study says. Some survivors experience severe nervous-system impairments such as mental retardation, while a large fraction experience more minor learning and behavioral problems.

But the study reinforces the argument that, on the whole, advances in neonatal care have had benefits far greater than costs, Goddeeris said.

"Some extremely low birth weight survivors will remain dependent on others," Goddeeris said, "but most make a successful transition to adulthood and become independent and productive adults. Their education and earnings levels are not so different from their peers."
-end-
The research was funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the Canadian Institutes of Health.

Michigan State University

Related Education Articles from Brightsurf:

Applying artificial intelligence to science education
A new review published in the Journal of Research in Science Teaching highlights the potential of machine learning--a subset of artificial intelligence--in science education.

Dementia education
School-based dementia education could deliver much needed empathy and understanding for older generations as new research from the University of South Australia shows it can significantly improve dementia knowledge and awareness among younger generations.

How can education researchers support education and public health and institutions during COVID-19?
As education researchers' ongoing work is interrupted by school closures, what can they do to support education and public health institutions dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic?

Online education platforms could scale high-quality STEM education for universities
Online and blended (online and in-person) STEM instruction can produce the same learning outcomes for students as traditional, in-person classes at a fraction of the cost, finds research published today in Science Advances.

Technology in higher education: learning with it instead of from it
Technology has shifted the way that professors teach students in higher education.

The new racial disparity in special education
Racial disparity in special education is growing, and it's more complex than previously thought.

Education may be key to a healthier, wealthier US
A first-of-its-kind study estimate the economic value of education for better health and longevity.

How education may stave off cognitive decline
Prefrontal brain regions linked to higher educational attainment are characterized by increased expression of genes involved in neurotransmission and immunity, finds a study of healthy older adults published in JNeurosci.

Does more education stem political violence?
In a study released online today in Review of Educational Research, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association, three Norwegian researchers attempt to bring clarity to this question by undertaking the first systematic examination of quantitative research on this topic.

Individual education programs not being used as intended in special education
Gone are the days when students with disabilities were placed in a separate classroom, or even in a completely different part of the school.

Read More: Education News and Education Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.