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Most low birth weight babies 'turn out to be productive adults'

December 2, 2010 - Washington

A new study by a Michigan State University economist found that most survivors of extremely low birth weight grow up to become productive adults.

Extremely low birth weight is defined as less than about 2.2 pounds and about 1 in 200 babies like this.

The study, led by MSU's John Goddeeris found that while these survivors were somewhat less productive as adults, on average, than normal-weight subjects, the productivity deficits were not very large.

"Our findings suggest that the long-term economic impact of being born at extremely low birth weight is pretty modest for typical survivors," said Goddeeris, professor of economics.

The team followed a cohort of 149 extremely low birth weight adults and 133 normal birth weight adults born in Canada around 1980.

"Some extremely low birth weight survivors will remain dependent on others but most make a successful transition to adulthood and become independent and productive adults. Their education and earnings levels are not so different from their peers," noted Goddeeris.

The study appears in the journal Pediatrics.


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