History of Low Birth-Weight Delivery Linked to Poorer Cognition

Women with a history of LBW delivery have lower z-scores in psychomotor speed/attention and learning/working memory composites
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Medically Reviewed By:
Mark Arredondo, M.D.

THURSDAY, June 13, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- Women with a history of low birth-weight (LBW) delivery may have poorer cognition, according to a study published online June 12 in Neurology.

Diana C. Soria-Contreras, Ph.D., from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues examined the extent to which a lifetime history of LBW delivery is associated with cognitive function. Participants from the Nurses' Health Study II with one valid cognitive assessment (in 2014 or 2018) and who reported one or more births at age 18 years and older were included in the analysis. The outcome of interest was a single assessment of cognitive function, measured with the self-administered Cogstate Brief Battery.

A total of 15,323 participants with a mean age of 62 years at cognitive assessment were included in the analysis. The researchers found that 8 percent of the participants had a history of LBW delivery. Women with a history of LBW delivery had lower z-scores in the psychomotor speed/attention and learning/working memory composites (β = −0.06 and −0.05, respectively) than parous women without a history of LBW delivery, after adjustment for age at cognitive assessment, race and ethnicity, participants' education, wave of baseline cognitive assessment, socioeconomic status, and prepregnancy characteristics. A gradient of lower z-scores was seen with an increasing number of LBW deliveries.

"Future research is needed to confirm our findings and to further investigate the value of early cognitive screening and preventive efforts targeting women with a history of LBW delivery to reduce the burden of cognitive impairment and dementia in this population," the authors write.

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