When Does a Preterm Birth Lead to a Disadvantage Later in Life? Effects on Cognitive Ability

Anna Baranowska-Rataj , UmeƄ University
Kieron Barclay, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Berkay Ozcan, London School of Economics
Joan Costa-Font, London School of Economics
Mikko Myrskyla, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research

Although preterm births are the leading cause of perinatal morbidity and mortality in developed countries, evidence about the consequences of such births later in life, and how the consequences vary by degrees of preterm severity, is limited. Using Swedish population register data on cohorts born 1982-1994 (N=939,225), we examine the effects of preterm births on school grades using sibling fixed effect models. We test whether family socioeconomic resources and school characteristics can compensate for any negative effects of premature births. Our results show that preterm births can have negative effects on school grades, but these negative effects are largely confined to children born extremely preterm (<28 weeks of gestation). Children born moderately preterm (i.e. born up to 5 weeks early) suffer no ill effects. We do not find any evidence for the effects of parental compensatory strategies. School environment may reduce the disadvantage resulting from preterm births.

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 Presented in Session 130. Childhood Conditions and Adult Achievement