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Cognitive abilities of low birth weight children show strong improvement

New study by the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research and the London School of Economics and Political Science

-- Press release by the MPIDR --

A low birth weight is considered a risk factor for decreased cognitive abilities in later life. This risk factor now seems to be dissolving; it is much less pronounced in younger birth cohorts.

Children born with a low birth weight have on average more health problems and poorer cognitive abilities than children of normal birth weight, as numerous studies have shown. However, medical care for babies of low birth weight has improved remarkably over the last decades. As a result, the disadvantage suffered by low birth weight babies may be changing.

Mikko Myrskylä, Executive Director of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, together with colleagues from the London School of Economics and Political Science, has now investigated how these improved external conditions affect the cognitive abilities of children with low birth weight. Their results, published in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), show that the relationship between low birth weight and reduced cognitive abilities in childhood has been declining by two thirds since the 1950s.

Read the full press release.

Original Article: Goisis, Alice, Özcan, Berkay and Myrskylä, Mikko, Decline in the negative association between low birth weight and cognitive ability. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), 2016, ISSN 0027-8424