Abstract

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.

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