Am J Perinatol 2003; 20(6): 321-332
DOI: 10.1055/s-2003-42773
Copyright © 2003 by Thieme Medical Publishers, Inc., 333 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001, USA. Tel.: +1(212) 584-4662

A Population-Based Study of the Effects of Birth Weight on Early Developmental Delay or Disability in Children

Jeffrey R. Thompson1 , Randy L. Carter1 , Allison R. Edwards1 , Jeffrey Roth1 , Mario Ariet1 , Nancy L. Ross2 , Michael B. Resnick1
  • 1University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida
  • 2Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, Gainesville, Florida
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Publication History

Publication Date:
06 October 2003 (online)


Improving medical treatment of extremely low-birth-weight infants over the last 20 to 30 years resulted in increased survival rates. The developmental sequela of salvaged infants is of great interest to perinatologists. The primary purposes of the current study were to assess the effect of birth weight (BW) on developmental delay or disability (DDD) in the first three years of life and determine whether there is a BW threshold below which all infants should be evaluated to determine if intervention services for children with DDD should be received. Three statewide databases were merged: 1998 Birth Vital Statistics; 1997-1998 Medicaid eligibility files; and 1998-2001 Children's Medical Services' Early Intervention Program (CMS-EIP) data. Infants who died within the first year of life and plural births were excluded. The final dataset consisted of 170,874 records. A child was determined to have a DDD if a developmental delay, or an established condition, such as sensory impairment, genetic, metabolic, neurological, or severe attachment disorders, was diagnosed through a multidisciplinary evaluation. Logistic regression models were used to relate BW to DDD, controlling for sociodemographic, behavioral, and perinatal variables. Adjusted odds ratios (OR) were calculated to describe the effects of BW on DDD. There was a significant effect of BW on DDD (Adjusted OR &equals 97.50, 40.01, 15.84, 3.29, 1.39, 1.00, 1.52 for BW categories 450-749, 750-999, 1000-1499, 1500- 2499, 2500-2999, 3000-4749, 4750-6050 g, respectively). In these categories, 70%, 56%, 36%, 11%, 4%, 3%, and 6% of surviving singleton infants, respectively, suffered a DDD in their first 3 years of life. Four medical, five sociodemographic, and two behavioral factors were significant in addition to BW. An equation for predicting the probability of DDD given these factors was obtained, and its use exemplified. BW is strongly associated with DDD. Over 60% of infants weighing < 1000 g and nearly half (46%) of those weighing < 1500 g at birth are diagnosed with a DDD before 3 years of age. The probability of DDD for a specific infant also varies by sociodemographic, other perinatal, and behavioral factors. The results of this paper suggest that all surviving infants of BW < 1000 g, and perhaps < 1500 g, should be automatically referred for evaluation.