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Educational achievement to age 11 years in children born at late preterm and early term gestations.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the effects of being born late preterm (LPT, 34-36 weeks' gestation) or early term (37-38 weeks) on children's educational achievement between ages 5 and 11 years.

DESIGN: A series of observational studies of longitudinal linked health and education data.

SETTING: The Born-in-Bradford (BiB) birth cohort study, which recruited mothers during pregnancy between 2007 and 2011.

PARTICIPANTS: The participants are children born between 2007 and 2011. Children with missing data, looked-after-children, multiple births and births post-term were excluded. The sample size varies by age according to amount of missing data, from 7860 children at age 5 years to 2386 at age 11 years (8031 at age 6 years and 5560 at age 7 years).

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Binary variables of whether a child reached the 'expected' level of overall educational achievement across subjects at the ages of 5, 6, 7 and 11 years. The achievement levels are measured using standardised teacher assessments and national tests.

RESULTS: Compared with full-term births (39-41 weeks), there were significantly increased adjusted odds of children born LPT, but not early term, of failing to achieve expected levels of overall educational achievement at ages 5 years (adjusted OR (aOR) 1.72,95% CI 1.34 to 2.21) and 7 years (aOR 1.46, 95% CI 1.08 to 1.97) but not at age 11 years (aOR 1.51, 95% CI 0.99 to 2.30). Being born LPT still had statistically significant effects on writing and mathematics at age 11 years.

CONCLUSIONS: There is a strong association between LPT and education at age 5 years, which remains strong and statistically significant through age 11 years for mathematics but not for other key subjects.

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