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Premature or low birth weight resulted in children 3X more likely to be anxious – meta-analysis May 2011

Prevalence of psychiatric diagnoses in preterm and full-term children, adolescents and young adults: a meta-analysis

Psychological Medicine, Published online: 20 May 2011
A. C. Burnetta1a2a3 aburnett at unimelb.edu.au, P. J. Andersona3a4, J. Cheonga3a5a6, L. W. Doylea3a4a5a6, C. G. Daveya2a7 and S. J. Wooda2a8
a1 Department of Psychology, The University of Melbourne, VIC, Australia
a2 Melbourne Neuropsychiatry Centre, Department of Psychiatry, The University of Melbourne and Melbourne Health, Australia
a3 Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Parkville, VIC, Australia
a4 Department of Paediatrics, The University of Melbourne, VIC, Australia
a5 Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Royal Women's Hospital, The University of Melbourne, VIC, Australia
a6 Neonatal Services, Royal Women's Hospital, VIC, Australia
a7 Centre for Youth Mental Health, The University of Melbourne, VIC, Australia
a8 School of Psychology, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, UK

Background Preterm (PT) birth and low birth weight (LBW) are high-prevalence events that are associated with adverse outcomes in the longer term, with vulnerability increasing as maturity at birth decreases. Psychiatric symptomatology appears heightened in PT/LBW survivors, though there are some discordant findings from studies using questionnaire measures, particularly with respect to anxiety and depressive symptoms.

Method This article synthesises findings from research using clinical psychiatric diagnostic criteria in PT/LBW individuals aged 10–25 years compared with term-born peers.
Key outcomes of interest were the rates of individuals receiving any psychiatric diagnosis and the number of diagnoses of anxiety or depressive disorders.

Results A literature search for studies reporting prevalence of ‘any diagnosis’ yielded five studies that met inclusion criteria, with a total of 565 PT/LBW and 533 control individuals.
Also, five studies were found that reported rates of anxiety/depression (692 PT/LBW and 605 control individuals).

The risk of these outcomes was increased for PT/LBW individuals compared with controls

  • any diagnosis: odds ratio (OR) 3.66, 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.57–5.21;
  • anxiety or depressive disorder: OR 2.86, 95% CI 1.73–4.73.

Conclusions The studies reviewed here indicate that, in addition to monitoring and management of medical and cognitive sequelae, the psychological well-being of PT/LBW individuals should be a key part of ongoing care.


  • Mothers with low vitamin D are 2X more likely to have premature / low birth weight infants
  • Infants born with low vitamin D have many vitamin D deficiency problems for decades to come.
  • Vitamin D reduces stress (reduce anxiety)

See also VitaminDWiki

VitaminDWiki items in categories: Meta-analyses of Pregnancy and Vitamin D

VitaminDWiki items in categories: Depression and Youth