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Education Can Help Overcome the Effects of Low Birth Weight

Study finds educational program produces bigger, taller, heavier 8-year-olds

THURSDAY, Nov. 5 (HealthDay News) -- An early years' educational intervention for low-birth-weight preterm infants results in children who are taller, heavier, and have a bigger head circumference at the age of 8 years, according to a study in the November issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Patrick H. Casey, M.D., of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, and colleagues conducted a study of 985 children with birth weights of 2,001 g to 2,500 g and 2,000 g and below, of whom 377 received an educational intervention from nursery discharge to 3 years old, while 608 did not.

When the researchers assessed the impact of the intervention at the age of 8 years, they found that the children in the intervention group were taller and had a larger head circumference than those in the non-intervention group. In the lighter low-birth-weight category, the intervention also had a positive impact on weight at 8 years old, with an average of 28 versus 26.8 kg for the non-intervention group.

"Broad-based interventions, such as the Infant Health and Development Program intervention, aimed at stemming the negative consequences of low birth weight and its cofactors are likely to produce a variety of positive outcomes for children even when the primary goal of the intervention may be to increase intellectual development and school readiness," the authors write.

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