Low Birth Weight Accounts for Part of Intellectual Disability

(HealthDay News) – Low birth weight is associated with about 10–15% of the total prevalence of intellectual disability (ID) among children who received a life-saving intervention in their first five years of life, according to a review published online April 29 in JAMA Pediatrics.

To investigate the impact of medical interventions in early childhood on the prevalence of later ID, Jeffrey P. Brosco, MD, PhD, from the University of Miami, and colleagues conducted a literature review (from 1950–2000) to construct estimates of the condition-specific prevalence of ID over time. Participants included children who were evaluated for ID after age 5 years and who had received a life-saving intervention within the first five years of life.

The researchers found that low birth weight correlated with about 10–15% of the total prevalence of ID. There was no clinically significant increase in ID prevalence associated with any other new medical therapies introduced during this period.

“We were unable to estimate with any precision the independent contribution of specific medical interventions to the prevalence of ID,” the authors write. “Nonetheless, our study revealed that, among the medical technologies introduced between 1950 and 2000, neonatal intensive care unit treatment of low birth weight infants is the most significant contributor to the increased prevalence of ID.”

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