Kinsuk Maitra, Hae Yean Park, Jaime Eggenberger, Angela Matthiessen, Erin Knight, Betty Ng; Difficulty in Mental, Neuromusculoskeletal, and Movement-Related School Functions Associated With Low Birthweight or Preterm Birth: A Meta-Analysis. Am J Occup Ther 2014;68(2):140–148. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2014.009985
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© 2021 American Occupational Therapy Association
OBJECTIVE. Our objective was to perform a meta-analysis to investigate whether low birthweight (LBW) or preterm birth was associated with difficulty in mental, neuromusculoskeletal, and movement-related school function tasks.
METHOD. Two search strategies produced 40 studies that met the inclusion criteria for the meta-analysis and yielded 549 effect sizes (d). Heterogeneity was evaluated by obtaining Q and I-squared values. Egger’s regression intercept test and a funnel plot were used to check for publication bias.
RESULTS. Children born LBW exhibited considerable difficulties in mental (d = −0.655, p < .0001) and neuromusculoskeletal and movement-related tasks (d = −0.391, p < .0001) compared with children of normal birthweight. Children born preterm also exhibited significant difficulties compared with full-term children in mental, neuromusculoskeletal, and movement-related tasks (d = −0.237, p < .0001).
CONCLUSION. Deficits in mental and motor functions in children born LBW or preterm appear to have significant effects on school readiness and academic achievement.
LBW: <2,500 g
Normal birthweight: >2,500 g
Preterm: <37 wk gestation
Full term: >37 wk gestation
LBW and mental functions assessments
LBW, neuromusculoskeletal, and movement-related functions assessments
Preterm and mental functions assessments
Preterm, neuromusculoskeletal, and movement-related functions assessments.
The results suggest the importance of an extensive and timely mental, neuromusculoskeletal, and movement-related assessment for children born LBW or preterm. Note that birthweight of most children born preterm is lower than that of children born full term, so often children born preterm exhibit LBW.
The results of this study strongly indicate the need for early interventions that encompass both mental (cognitive) and motor activities in children born LBW or preterm to address difficulties associated with academic attainment and educational outcomes.
Additionally, when setting up an early intervention program, occupational therapy practitioners should strongly consider incorporating cognitive developmental activities, especially in children born LBW, because these children show strong association with poor mental functions.
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