SGA status in premature infants influences the later risk of dyscalculia

Julia Jaekel from the University of Bochum and Prof. Dieter Wolke investigated whether a premature birth increases the risk of developing dyscalculia later. The two scientists examined 922 children with an average age of 8 years for the presence of dyscalculia and put these results in relation to the due date.

A total of five groups were formed in regards to the due date: one group with a due date before the 32nd week of pregnancy (n = 206), 85 children born in the 32nd and 33rd week, 200 children born between the 34th and 36th week and a group born between the 37th and 38th week. In addition, a control group (n = 248) was realized whose due date was between 39 and 41 weeks.

In addition to the diagnosis of dyscalculia, the socio-economic status and SGA status were also recorded. The SGA status (small-for-gestational-age-babies) describes babies who are too small and too light for the duration of pregnancy. Babies with SGA status very often show general cognitive deficits.

Jaekel and Wolke found that the earlier the due date, the greater the later math problems. However, a connection to dyscalculia could not be established if the gender, socio-economic status and SGA status were factored out. The more frequent diagnoses of dyscalculia in cases of premature birth were not influenced by the earlier date of delivery, but by the SGA status of the children.

Jaekel, J. & Wolke, D. (2014). Preterm birth and dyscalculia. The Journal of Pediatrics, 164, 1327-1332