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Higher Gestational Age Tied to Better Education Outcomes

Findings reported for children at age 9 years, even among those born at early versus late term

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 4, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Even at term, gestational age is associated with educational outcomes, according to a study published in the Aug. 1 issue of Pediatrics.

Amanda Hedges, D.O., from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and colleagues used data from 1,405 children participating in a national U.S. birth cohort to estimate associations between gestational age and teacher-reported academic outcomes at age 9 years among children born at term (37 to 41 weeks).

The researchers found that gestational age as a continuous measure was significantly associated with above-average rankings in all areas. When adjusting for child sex, maternal characteristics, obstetric risk factors, and delivery complications, the associations were similar across outcomes (mathematics: odds ratio [OR], 1.13; science and social studies: OR, 1.13; language and literacy: OR, 1.16). Compared with term (39 to 40 weeks), there was a positive association between late term (41 weeks) and mathematics and a negative association between early term (37 to 38 weeks) and language and literacy.

“Our findings add to a small group of studies suggesting that gestational age through 41 weeks is associated with improvements in some educational outcomes,” the authors write.

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