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Academic performance in moderately and late preterm children in the United States: are they catching up?

OBJECTIVE: To determine whether preterm birth of 32-36 6/7 weeks gestation affected school performance from kindergarten through fifth grade.

STUDY DESIGN: We assessed 14350 term infants and 1195 32-36 6/7 weeks gestation infants followed in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study Kindergarten 2011 cohort for classroom performance in kindergarten-fifth grade. Multivariable regression was performed for comparisons, and data were weighted to be representative of the US population.

RESULTS: Children born 35-36 6/7 weeks gestation had no significant difference in their academic scores or performance, while 32-34 6/7 weeks' children had lower academic scores and teacher performance scores when compared to term children. Children born between 32 and 36 6/7 weeks gestation had higher odds of individualized education plan needs and had learning disability diagnoses compared to term children.

CONCLUSIONS: Children born between 32 and 34 6/7 weeks gestation have poor school performance compared to term children. Children born between 32 and 36 6/7 weeks gestation are at risk for learning disabilities and likely benefit from continued support and services to improve achievement throughout school.

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