Intrauterine growth restriction – a population-based study of the association with academic performance and psychiatric health.


AIM: To investigate whether intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), resulting in small for gestational age (SGA) infants, is associated with increased susceptibility to psychiatric problems and academic impairment in late teens. METHODS: A cohort of all 10th-grade students in Oslo, Norway, followed up between 2001 and 2004 (n = 2131), was linked with foetal growth data. IUGR was considered equal to SGA at the lowest 2.5th, 5th, and 10th percentiles and appropriate for gestational age (AGA) as the highest 90th percentile. Mental health was evaluated using the Hopkins Symptoms Check List and the Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire, and academic achievements and ambitions were self-reported by the students. RESULTS: Psychiatric problems were equally prevalent in all groups. However, the SGA girls performed inferiorly compared to their AGA peers in the school subjects English [3.6 vs 3.9 (p = 0.03)], mathematics [4.0 vs 4.3 (p = 0.01)] and social science [4.2 vs 4.4 (p = 0.05)], but not for Norwegian. This association was not observed in boys. There was an association between academic impairment and prematurity, occurring more frequently among immigrants (p < 0.001). CONCLUSION: SGA had a small negative impact on academic achievements in adolescent girls, but not boys. There was no association between SGA and psychiatric problems in either gender.