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Attention disturbances are associated with low birth weight in an urban community but not a suburban community

Statistics from



Do psychiatric problems associated with low birth weight differ according to social advantage?


1095 children randomly sampled from newborn discharge lists (1983–1985), excluding those with severe neurological impairment. The first assessment was carried out at age 6 years at which time 823 children participated, 717 children participated at age 11 years and 713 at age 17 years.


Two hospitals in southeast Michigan, US; assessments performed 1990 to 2002.

Risk factors:

Low birth weight (⩽2500 g) versus normal birth weight; urban (lower social advantage) versus suburban place of residence.


Psychiatric problems: attention disturbances, internalising behaviours (eg, anxiety/depression), withdrawal and externalising behaviours (eg, aggression, delinquent behaviour). These three areas were assessed using the Child Behaviour Checklist (rated by mothers) and Teacher’s Report From (rated by teachers) for each child at 6, 11 and 17 years of age. Standardised cut-offs were …

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  • Source of funding: National Institute of Mental Health (grant R01 MH44586) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (F31 DA021040).


  • Competing interests: None.

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