European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

, Volume 26, Issue 12, pp 1523–1531 | Cite as

Mental health assessed by the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire for children born extremely preterm without severe disabilities at 11 years of age: a Norwegian, national population-based study

  • Silje Katrine Elgen FevangEmail author
  • Mari Hysing
  • Kristian Sommerfelt
  • Irene Elgen
Original Contribution


The aims were to investigate mental health problems with the Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) in children born extremely preterm/extremely low birth weight (EP/ELBW) without severe disabilities compared to controls, and to identify peri-, or neonatal factors possibly predicting later mental health problems. A national Norwegian cohort of 11-year-old EP/ELBW children, excluding those with intellectual disabilities, non-ambulatory cerebral palsy, blindness and/or deafness, was assessed. Parents and teachers completed the SDQ. Mean scores and scores ≥90th percentile for the control group, combined (parent and/or teacher reporting the child ≥90th percentile), and pervasive ratings (both parent and teacher reporting the child ≥90th percentile) were presented. The controls consisted of an unselected population of all 11-year-old children born in 1995 who attended public or private schools in Bergen. Of the eligible children, 216 (64%) EP/ELBW and 1882 (61%) control children participated. The EP/ELBW children had significantly higher scores and/or increased risk of parent, teacher, combined, and pervasive rated hyperactivity/inattention, emotional-, and peer problems (OR 2.1–6.3). Only parents reported the EP/ELBW children to be at an increased risk of conduct problems (OR 1.6, 95% CI 1.1–2.6). Only low maternal education at birth was significantly associated with mental health problems at 11 years of age (OR 2.5, 95% CI 1.2–5.4). EP/ELBW children without severe disabilities had increased risk of symptoms of hyperactivity/inattention, emotional-, and peer problems. None of the peri- or neonatal factors were significantly associated with later mental health problems, except for low maternal education.


Extremely preterm Extremely low birth weight The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire Mental health School age Predicting factors 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Silje Katrine Elgen Fevang
    • 1
    • 2
    • 5
    Email author
  • Mari Hysing
    • 3
  • Kristian Sommerfelt
    • 1
    • 2
  • Irene Elgen
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Clinical Science, Faculty of Medicine and DentistryUniversity of BergenBergenNorway
  2. 2.Department of PediatricsHaukeland University HospitalBergenNorway
  3. 3.Uni Research HealthRegional Centre for Child and Youth Mental Health and Child WelfareBergenNorway
  4. 4.Department of Child and Adolescent PsychiatryHaukeland University HospitalBergenNorway
  5. 5.Section of Pediatrics, Department of Clinical MedicineUniversity of BergenBergenNorway

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