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OBJECTIVE: Risk factors associated with adverse behavioral outcomes in very preterm (VPT) or very low birth weight (VLBW) infants are poorly understood. The aim of this article is to identify prognostic factors for behavioral problems and psychiatric disorders in children born ≤32 weeks gestational age or with birth weight ≤1250 g. METHOD: A systematic review was conducted using MEDLINE, Embase, and Pyscinfo databases to identify studies published between January 1, 1990 and June 1, 2014 reporting multivariable prediction models for behavioral problems or psychiatric disorders in VPT/VLBW children. Fifteen studies were identified and 2 independent reviewers extracted key information on study design, outcome definition, risk factor selection, model development, reporting, and conducted a risk of bias assessment. RESULTS: The 15 studies included reported risk factor analyses for the following domains: general behavioral problems (n = 8), any psychiatric disorder (n = 2), autism spectrum symptoms/disorders (n = 5), and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (n = 1). Findings were inconclusive because of the following: small number of studies in each domain, heterogeneity in outcome measures, lack of overlap in the risk factors examined, and differences in strategies for dealing with children with neurological impairments. CONCLUSION: There is a lack of evidence concerning risk factors for behavior problems and psychiatric disorders among VPT/VLBW survivors. This review has identified the need for further research examining the etiology of disorders of psychological development in the VPT/VLBW population to refine risk prediction and identify targets for intervention. Large well-conducted studies that use standard diagnostic evaluations to assess psychiatric disorders throughout childhood and adolescence are required.

Original publication




Journal article


J Dev Behav Pediatr

Publication Date





88 - 102


Humans, Infant, Extremely Premature, Infant, Newborn, Infant, Very Low Birth Weight, Mental Disorders, Problem Behavior