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New Finding: Low Birth Weight Linked to Childhood Attention Problems

Advances in medicine mean that more babies with low birth weights are surviving than ever before. Babies with low birth weights are at risk for a host of health problems, as infants and as they grow older. Researchers recently found that children with low birth weights appear to experience more psychiatric problems from childhood to high school than children with normal birth weights. 

Low birth weight is considered 5.5 lbs or less; especially low birth weight is 3.3 lbs. or less, and extremely low birth weight is 2.2 lbs. or less. The researchers at Michigan State University found that children with low birth weights had higher rates of delinquent and aggressive behavior; anxiety and depression; and attention difficulties. The rate of attention problems was higher for children with low birth weights, and even higher for those living in urban areas. Children with higher birth weights and those living in suburban areas did not experience the same incidence of attention difficulties. 

Early intervention is important to ensure the best long-term outcomes. Addressing attention issues and other psychiatric problems early on is helpful for success in school. If you suspect that your child has a psychiatric issue, discuss your concerns with his or her doctor. 

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