To evaluate the role of postnatal growth on IQ at 3 years of age, 139 appropriate for gestational age, very low birth weight infants (<1.5 kg) born in 1977 and 1978 were studied at 40 weeks (term), and at 8, 20, and 33 months (corrected) of age. Weight, height, and head circumference were measured at each age, neurologic status was measured at 20 months, and Stanford Binet IQ at 33 months. Multiple regression analysis revealed that head circumference at 8 months of age is the best growth predictor of IQ at 3 years of age. Path analysis was performed to measure the effects of biologic and social factors measured earlier in life on IQ at 3 years. These factors explained 43% of the variance in IQ at 3 years of age. Head circumference at 8 months had a direct effect on IQ at 3 years, controlling for all other variables in the model. Neonatal risk had an indirect effect via head circumference. Neurologic impairment had direct and indirect (via head circumference) effects; race and socioeconomic status had direct effects on IQ but no effects on growth at 8 months of age. Thus, brain growth at 8 months significantly influenced 3 year IQ at 3 years of age among very low birth weight infants, even when medical and sociodemographic variables were controlled.
- Received March 22, 1985.
- Accepted June 20, 1985.
- Copyright © 1986 by the American Academy of Pediatrics