We compared the prevalence of learning disabilities at age 8 years in a subgroup of 68 of 129 (53%) regional cohort of extremely low birth weight (ELBW) children who were considered “normal‘’ neurologically and intellectually (IQ ± 85) with that of 114 term group matched controls (C). Both groups were tested with a battery of psychoeducational measures, and parents and teachers completed questionnaires on the school performance of the children. ELBW children were comparable with C on measures of intelligence (ELBW 101 ± 8, C 104 ± 11), language, and academic achievement but fared significantly less well in motor performance (p < .0001). The prevalence of learning disabilities (by predefined criteria) in ELBW children (26%) was not increased compared with C (19%). However, teachers rated significantly more ELBW children as performing below grade level than were C (31% vs 16%, p < .05), and by parent report, a higher proportion of ELBW children had received special assistance in school compared with C (37% vs 16%, p < .001). We conclude that although the prevalence of learning disabilities in normal ELBW children was not different from that in controls, ELBW children did less well and utilized more special resources.
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