Effect of socioeconomic status on psychosocial problems in 5- to 6-year-old preterm- and term-born children: the ABCD study.


This study aimed at analysing the association between socioeconomic status (SES) and psychosocial problems in preterm- and term-born children. Scores of mothers and teachers on the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) regarding 217 preterm-born children (<37 weeks' gestation, mean 34 weeks) were compared with 4336 term-born children in the Amsterdam Born Children and their Development (ABCD) cohort at age 5-6 years. Associations between SDQ scores and SES (maternal education and perceived income adequacy) were examined with multivariate linear regression analysis. The mean mother-reported total difficulties score was significantly higher for preterm children (6.1 +/- 4.7) than for term children (5.2 +/- 4.1). After covariate adjustment, this difference was 0.5 (95 % CI 0.0-1.0). For preterm children 16.1 % of the mothers reported psychosocial problems compared with 10.1 % for term children. Lower maternal education and lower income adequacy were significantly related to higher SDQ scores of mothers and teachers. Differences in mothers' SDQ score between preterm and term children were larger in the high-education (Delta0.9, 95 % CI 0.2-1.5) and high-income group (Delta0.9, 95 % CI 0.3-1.6). No significant differences were found between preterm and term children in the SDQ scores reported by teachers. Low level of maternal education and inadequate income showed a much stronger association with psychosocial problems than preterm birth. No combined effect of low SES and preterm birth was found. This study corroborates the evidence for the strength of the disadvantageous effects of low SES on early psychosocial development.