Psychiatric symptoms in low birth weight adolescents, assessed by screening questionnaires
The aim of this study was to explore psychiatric symptoms in low birth weight adolescents, and the usefulness of questionnaires compared with psychiatric interview.
A population-based follow-up study of 56 very low birth weight (VLBW), 60 term small for gestational age (SGA) and 83 control adolescents at 14 years of age was made.
The Achenbach System of Empirically Based Assessment (ASEBA) and the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) were rated by adolescents, parents and teachers. The results were compared with diagnostic assessment based on the semi-structured interview, Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School Aged Children (K-SADS).
VLBW adolescents had more psychiatric symptoms than controls, especially attention deficit, emotional, behavioural, social and also academic problems. Although less consistent, the SGA group had more emotional, conduct and attention deficit symptoms than controls. Results remained essentially the same when adolescents with low estimated IQ were excluded, and persisted after controlling for possible confounders. The sensitivity and specificity of ASEBA and SDQ differed between informants and groups.
VLBW adolescents are at risk of developing psychiatric symptoms, and reduced social and academic skills by the age of 14. Term SGA adolescents may have discrete emotional, behavioural and attention deficit symptoms. ASEBA and SDQ provide a useful supplement to psychiatric interview.
Key wordsadolescent mental health psychiatry small for gestational age very low birth weight
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