An intelligence quotient (IQ) is an assessment of an individual's ability to think and reason. A new study has revealed that the IQ of adults born very prematurely or with very low birth weight can be predicted when they are just toddlers. On the other hand, the research results suggest that the IQ of adults who were born full-term could not be accurately predicted till the age of six.
Lead researcher Dieter Wolke, professor at the University of Warwick in England, Britain, said, "We believe this is the first time a research paper has looked into the prediction of the IQ of adults over the age of 26 who were born very premature or with very low birth weight. The results indicate that assessing two year old who were born very pre-term or very underweight will provide a reasonably good prediction to what their adult IQ will be."
The research was conducted in southern Bavaria, Germany and followed children from birth into adulthood who were born between 1985-86. 260 babies born either very prematurely (before 32 weeks) or with very low birth weight (fewer than 1.5kgs) were compared with 229 babies who were born full-term. Researchers assessed data on cognitive function with developmental and IQ tests at five and 20 months and at four, six, eight, and 26 years of age.
Across all assessments, very premature and very low birth weight children and adults had lower IQ scores than those born full-term, even when individuals with severe cognitive impairment were excluded from the comparisons. The study noted, "These findings provide strong support for the timing of cognitive follow-up at age two years to plan special support services for children with cognitive problems."
The findings were published in Pediatrics.